The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Nationals’ Dusty Baker rests his starters Friday against the Mets in New York

Bryce Harper hit during batting practice Friday and will be reassessed Saturday. (Mark Tenally/Associated Press)
Placeholder while article actions load

NEW YORK — The Washington Nationals arrived early Friday morning, not late Thursday night, which bothered them. Dusty Baker mentioned the late flight multiple times Thursday, bemoaning the nighttime getaway days that have forced the Nationals to leave Houston, Miami and Atlanta under similarly exhausting circumstances in the past month.

But he and the Nationals have a luxury other teams headed for October do not: They have clinched and therefore can adjust their lineup to match the scheduling tribulations. Baker will not start many regulars Friday evening, and he took most of his starters out early Thursday, too. The Nationals play every day until the end of the season, which isn’t an obscenely long stretch, particularly given the four days off between the Oct. 1 regular-season finale and the beginning of the National League Division Series on Oct. 6.

“I’m not putting them in there to paint,” Baker said. “I’m putting them in there to win.”

One player who did paint Friday was Bryce Harper, who ran the bases, shagged flyballs and hit on the field with his teammates during batting practice. Harper put on the most spectacular batting-practice show of any of his teammates, hitting more than one ball halfway up the second deck in right field. Harper is scheduled for a more extended on-field hitting session — a simulated game, really — on Saturday. Baker said the Nationals will determine his next step then.


Wilmer Difo SS

Alejandro De Aza LF

Howie Kendrick 2B

Adam Lind 1B

Victor Robles CF

Rafael Bautista RF

Adrian Sanchez 3B

Pedro Severino C

Edwin Jackson P


Norichika Aoki RF

Jose Reyes 2B

Asdrubal Cabrera 3B

Brandon Nimmo LF

Travis d’Arnaud C

Dominic Smith 1B

Amed Rosario SS

Juan Lagares CF

Robert Gsellman P

More on the Nationals:

Bryce Harper will be back soon. Where should the Nationals bat him?

Nationals-Mets preview: This is not the showdown anyone expected

Stephen Drew puts off surgery, hopes to make his own playoff push