With Harper returning, lineup comes together nicely for Johnson

For the first time it what seems like April, manager Davey Johnson got to put together a lineup that would make his counterpart in the other dugout pause.

With the return of left fielder Bryce Harper from the disabled list, Johnson was able to put together one of the better power and contact combinations in quite a while to open the month of July.

Denard Span CF
Jayson Werth RF
Bryce Harper LF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Adam LaRoche 1B
Ian Desmond SS
Anthony Rendon 2B
Kurt Suzuki C
Jordan Zimmermann P

The biggest change, besides the inclusion of last year’s rookie of the year in Harper, is moving Rendon from the two hole to the seven spot. Manager Davey Johnson said it was more about Werth than Rendon.

“Rendon did a heck of job, his on-base percentage, his batting average, his approach was great,” Johnson said. “The problem is Werth has got a little more pop. He has history of being able to get on the base. That is his ‘m.o.’ getting on base, take some pitches.

“Rendon did the job for what I want in the two-hole, getting on base. It is not a slap at Rendon at all. (Werth was) one of the reasons we were so successful last year was, I led him off, and hit Harper behind him. They are used to having that relationship, too.”

The other focus for Johnson was making the matchups difficult at the top of the order, leading off with left-handed hitting Span, than right-handed hitting Werth, left-hand hitting Harper, right-handed hitting Zimmerman and then left-handed hitting LaRoche.

“I like with Zim (there),” Johnson said. “When you have three left handers out of the first five, the guys that I have separating them I want them to give the manager on the other side a pause before he brings in his bullpen, a left-hander, to go through those three left handers. It is all about matchups late in the ball game that you want to create. He is more of a threat than at this point than Rendon is.”

Fresh off a 13-2 shellacking of the Mets, which featured every starting position player with at least a hit and RBI in the same game, this lineup also makes Johnson smile for its capability in a season where runs have been unusually hard to come by.

“A lot of the guys in that group are swinging the bats better than they were earlier in the year,” Johnson said. “The second baseman generally hit in the seven hole, and that is where Rendon is. (With Danny Espinosa), we weren’t getting a whole lot of production there. He should be better protection for Desi. Suzuki has warmed up. It was fun thinking about last night and getting up in the morning. When I came here, even (hitting coach Rick) Eckstein had it written out for me. I said, ‘yeah, that is where we are going.’ It is fun.”

And there also is the point that it makes the opposing skipper look for the indigestion medicine before the game even begins.

“I always put myself in the other dugout when I look at how the lineup and how it is structured.”

This one is “structured” pretty well. Now let’s see what it can do in a real game.

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