Following Saturday night’s win over the Cincinnati Reds, one in which Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch in the shin and later exited, Washington Nationals Manager Dave Martinez told Harper to text him how he’s feeling in the morning. All signs pointed to Harper avoiding a significant injury —  he didn’t require an exam of any sort — but he was sore, perhaps too sore to play in Sunday’s series finale against the Reds at Nationals Park.

On Sunday, Harper messaged his manager and told him he was good to play. Martinez then asked him if he could play center field. Absolutely, Harper responded. So Martinez penciled Harper into the Nationals lineup in the cleanup spot and the Nationals avoided a situation that could have derailed their push for a playoff spot.

“Huge relief. That doesn’t tickle,” Martinez said. “I’ve gotten hit there before and he must be a little tougher than I am because I limped to first base and came out of the game.”

Harper initially thought the worst. He entered the Nationals clubhouse Saturday night and thought about what happened nearly a year earlier when his left knee buckled running to first base. He was diagnosed with a deep bone bruise and missed six weeks. This case is different.

“It feels fine,” Harper said. “I woke up okay. I’m in there.”

Trea Turner, meanwhile, isn’t in Sunday’s starting lineup. Martinez said he wanted to give Turner a breather after going 0 for 9 in Saturday’s doubleheader. It’s the first time Turner isn’t in Washington’s lineup since July 13. Monday’s off-day affords Turner a two-day break.

“He’s played a lot,” Martinez said. “He’s done really well. This was a perfect opportunity to give him a day off after playing two games yesterday.”

REDS (49-62)
Jose Peraza SS
Phillip Ervin LF
Scooter Gennett 2B
Eugenio Suarez 3B
Mason Williams RF
Tucker Barnhart C
Brandon Dixon 1B
Luis Castillo P
Billy Hamilton CF

Adam Eaton RF
Juan Soto LF
Anthony Rendon 3B
Bryce Harper CF
Daniel Murphy 2B
Matt Adams 1B
Matt Wieters C
Tanner Roark P
Wilmer Difo SS