WASHINGTON (AP) — One day after Bryce Harper expressed his thoughts on the ideal lineup for the Washington Nationals, his manager had a clear message for reporters.
"I've got to let you guys know something: I've got Bryce's back in every way. That will not change," Matt Williams said before Washington's home game versus Colorado on Tuesday."
On Monday, Harper returned to the Nationals after missing 57 games with a torn ligament in his left hand. With the All-Star outfielder back, the first-year manager has a full complement of potent option, but potentially some tricky decisions. Harper, Washington's left fielder pre-injury, suggested a configuration where he moves to center — the usual home for Denard Span.
Normally a middle of the order batter, Harper will bat sixth and play left field for the second straight game against Colorado on Tuesday.
He went 1 for 3 with a run scored in his return. Williams said on Monday the daily lineup situation was "fluid," but Washington's entire batting order and fielding roles remains identical following the 7-3 win.
Monday night marked the first time since opening day — when catcher Wilson Ramos left the game with an injury — that this starting eight has taken the field.
Williams said he spoke with Harper about his lineup comments.
"I want him to play every day and I want him to play the way Bryce knows how to play. He's going to hit in different spots in the lineup. He's OK with that. He's going to play in different spots in the outfield and he's OK with that too."
On April 19, Williams famously benched the 21-year-old in the seventh inning against St. Louis for failing to run all the way to first base on a ground ball out.