Williams: Harper will bat higher in lineup this year

Williams: Harper will bat higher in lineup this year
July 2, 2014, 5:30 pm
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Though he’s batting sixth for the third consecutive night since coming off the disabled list, Bryce Harper will move up in the Nationals’ lineup at some point this season, manager Matt Williams insisted today.

Still fielding questions in the wake of Harper’s controversial comments Monday in which the 21-year-old outfielder openly disagreed with his manager’s lineup decisions, Williams further attempted to diffuse the situation by talking up Harper.

“If I was him, I’d want to hit third or fourth, too,” Williams said. “Who wouldn’t? So it’s taken as it’s taken. But I’ll tell you this: It would be beneficial, I think for everybody, to just see how it plays. Because I don’t anticipate Bryce Harper hitting sixth the rest of the year.”

Williams’ rationale for keeping Harper down in the lineup for now: He doesn’t want to put extra pressure on a player who just missed nine weeks with a major wrist injury.

“There’s a number of reasons for it, but first and foremost is: He’s just coming back from injury,” Williams said. “So, does he hit 2 for us? Yeah. Does he hit 3 for us? Yeah. Does he hit 4? Yeah. Maybe not today. But he will. And it will be this year.”

Harper did bat second in the Nationals’ lineup 10 times in April before getting hurt, though he hit sixth in his final two games before going on the DL.