When Bryce Harper was activated from the disabled list Tuesday following a 42-game absence, Nationals Manager Dusty Baker said the plan was to increase Harper’s workload with each of the remaining six games. Every game was a precious opportunity for Harper to amass live at-bats before the end of the regular season.
Baker thought that was still the plan when the Nationals departed Philadelphia late Wednesday night because Harper played in games on consecutive nights without a setback. But Harper isn’t in Washington’s lineup Thursday against the Pirates. The former MVP said Thursday he “is a little sore today playing two in a row,” and Baker explained there was some miscommunication between him and the training staff so he changed his plans “last minute.”
“We decided it was best to give him the day off,” Baker said. “and then he’ll try to play through the weekend.”
Baker emphatically insisted — with some humor — that nothing troubling had surfaced for Harper, who sustained a bone bruise and left calf strain Aug. 12.
“Nothing,” Baker said. “No. Don’t be alarmed. Nothing.”
As a reporter began asking another question, Baker interjected, with a smile: “Again, nothing.”
Harper went 1 for 6 with a walk and two strikeouts in his two incomplete games against the Phillies. He singled in the fifth inning Wednesday, which led to a stolen base at the back end of a double steal. He was also tested in the outfield a couple times, forced to fetch balls in the right-field corner. He did so smoothly and delivered strikes with ease. He left Tuesday’s loss after 4 1/2 innings and Wednesday’s loss after six frames.
“I felt good. I was able to get out there, play a couple innings, see some pitches,” Harper said. “I had some good at-bats. I’m just trying to take it one game at a time, one at-bat at a time.”
Trea Turner, Ryan Zimmerman, and Matt Wieters were also given Thursday off the Nationals got back to the District early Thursday morning following a game that lasted seven minutes shy of four hours Wednesday.
“That was a long game,” Baker said. “Like, man. That was like a twilight zone game. I look up there and it was like four hours. Nine innings. Terrible.”
Baker later added: “This has been some of the worst scheduling I’ve ever seen in my life since I’ve been in the big leagues. … Yesterday’s game had a lot to do with that, but that takes away from, to me, some of our home-field advantage — when you’re getting in that late because I got to get certain days off to keep them sharp and healthy for the future. So you add up a half dozen of those games or more that you do per year, well, I’m not out there with my number one lineup for sake of preservation. I hope the league addresses that next year and has more day games on getaway days.”
Christopher Bostick 2B
Starling Marte LF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Josh Bell 1B
Jordan Luplow RF
Sean Rodriguez 3B
Elias Diaz C
Max Moroff SS
Ivan Nova RHP
Wilmer Difo SS
Victor Robles RF
Anthony Rendon 3B
Daniel Murphy 2B
Howie Kendrick LF
Adam Lind 1B
Michael A. Taylor CF
Jose Lobaton C
Edwin Jackson RHP
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