Bryce Harper’s getting a rare day off today, but it’s not due to anything injury-related, manager Davey Johnson said this afternoon.
With the Nationals facing a lefty starter, Johnson figured this was a good time to rest one of his normal left-handed-hitting position players. It was either going to be Harper or Adam LaRoche, and Harper ends up being the one who will take a seat today.
Johnson said he wants to get his rookie outfielder a bit of a breather while also allowing guys who haven’t started in a while to get some at-bats.
“I’m going to try to find ways to get some of my guys that’s playing time been cut a little short (a rest),” Johnson said. “Tyler Moore, want to get him in. Harp, I’m kind of running him into the ground, although I’m sure he’s not tired. I think he was a little tired on Sunday for some reason, but he felt great yesterday.”
Johnson also plans to give Jayson Werth the day off tomorrow, with Roger Bernadina sliding into the outfield and playing center.
“I’m just going to pick some spots (to rest guys),” Johnson said. “We’ve had a real tough schedule lately and the weather’s been hot. Some tough games.”
Michael Morse returns to the lineup after being removed from yesterday’s game in the fourth inning due to a hand injury. Johnson said he learned during the game that Morse had complained to the trainer about some discomfort with his right hand, and facing hard-throwing righty Jeff Samardzija, Johnson wanted to play things safe and pull Morse from the game.
“He said he was fine (today),” Johnson said. “I don’t think he wants to talk to me, because I took him out of that game. But I’m always going to be concerned. That one slipped by me a little bit, that he complained. I didn’t want him to aggravate (it).”
If he was staying on his normal rotation, today would be John Lannan’s turn to pitch, but Johnson doesn’t plan on using his left-hander in relief today. He’ll have Lannan throw side sessions for now and could use him in relief in five more days when his next scheduled throw day would be.
Johnson said he talked to Lannan and outlined when he’ll have Lannan slide into the rotation once Stephen Strasburg is shut down. That will likely come during the Nationals’ series against Atlanta (Sept. 14-16), largely because the Braves struggle against lefties and Lannan has had success against the Braves in the past.
In his career, Lannan is 9-5 with 3.20 ERA against Atlanta.
Finally, Sean Burnett is taking anti-inflammatories and will be held out of action at least the next two or three days, Johnson said. Burnett has been battling some elbow tenderness lately.