Harper gets first day off since call-up

BOSTON - Since getting called up to the majors on April 28, Bryce Harper had started all 37 games that the Nationals had played.

That streak ends today.

With the Nats looking to earn the sweep of the Red Sox, Harper will get the first day off of his major league career. Roger Bernadina will start in center, with Tyler Moore in left and Xavier Nady in right.

Johnson said after Thursday’s game that Harper had been dealing with some “tenderness” in his back, and there was a chance that the 19-year-old might not play on Friday. Harper brushed off questions about his back, saying he was fine, and obviously was in the lineup each of the last two days. But it’s at least possible today’s day off is related to Harper’s health.

At least Johnson will finally have that big left-handed bat off the bench that he’s been searching for.

Here’s the Nats’ lineup today against Red Sox lefty Jon Lester:

2B Danny Espinosa
RF Xavier Nady
3B Ryan Zimmerman
DH Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Tyler Moore
C Jesus Flores
CF Roger Bernadina
P Jordan Zimmermann

Meanwhile, today will mark the 12th time this season that the Nationals have had a chance to earn a series sweep. Of those 11 previous times, they’ve finished the job and earned that sweep just once.

They’d like to change that trend today.

“We’ve been really good at winning series, and we haven’t really swept a lot of teams,” Tyler Clippard said after last night’s win. “It would be really nice to do that tomorrow. It’s not really something we’re thinking about. We’re just kind of going in day to day. Obviously it’s good that we won the series and we’re happy about that.

“But every day is big, and we’re trying to win every day and it would be nice to get the win tomorrow.”

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