After text conversation, Johnson puts Harper back in Nats lineup

Following last night’s game, Davey Johnson told reporters that he planned to give Bryce Harper the weekend off in an effort to get Harper on track and out of an 0-for-18 funk.

Harper wasn’t a fan of that idea, and sent a text message to his manager last night.

“Play me or trade me,” the text message read.

Johnson’s response?

“Since trading’s out of the question, I guess I’m gonna play him,” the Nationals’ skipper said today, with a laugh.

Indeed, Harper is back in the Nationals’ lineup today in Game 2 of this three-game set against the Padres.

But let’s be clear on one thing before going any further: Harper was not actually demanding a trade. I’ve had more than a few people on Twitter take Harper’s text message far too literally. The 20-year-old was merely telling his manager that he’s fine and wants to play.

Johnson texted Harper back this morning and told him to pop into the manager’s office for a chat when he got to the park. That talk apparently went well.

“I explained to him that a lot of times, by the body language I see, maybe somebody is a little mentally beat up or tired physically,” Johnson said. “I told him, ‘I can’t imagine you being either one of those, but one of them was.’ And my job is when that happens, the best way I know to rest them up is to sit them next to me.”

Harper assured Johnson that he’s healthy and is fine mentally, and wants to be in the lineup in order to get going. And that apparently was all Johnson needed to hear.

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s good to go,” Johnson said.

Harper missed 31 games while on the disabled list with left knee bursitis, and while he homered in dramatic fashion in his first swing in his first game off the DL, he’s gone cold since then.

The recent numbers are slightly deceiving, however, as Harper has drawn three walks, smacked a sacrifice fly yesterday and hit a few balls hard. He just hasn’t gotten anything to fall since that homer fell into the visitors’ bullpen in left-center field.

He’ll get a chance to get it going today against Padres righty Jason Marquis, who spent two seasons with the Nats from 2010-2011.

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