His big toe still in pain after a procedure yesterday to remove an ingrown toenail, Bryce Harper is once again out of the Nationals' starting lineup for this afternoon's game against the Cubs.
Harper hoped to return today after missing the series opener, but his toe hasn't healed quite enough yet.
"Harp's still a little tender, and he wanted to wait until he hit on the field," manager Davey Johnson said. "If it's that tender, I'm not starting him. So he's not in the lineup."
With Harper and Jayson Werth (who was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list today) sidelined, Johnson is forced to again cobble together a makeshift outfield that includes Tyler Moore in left field and Roger Bernadina in right field flanking Denard Span.
Both Moore and Bernadina have struggled all season coming off the bench, with Moore currently batting .170 and in a 3-for-22 slump that includes 10 strikeouts. Johnson attributes the 26-year-old's slow start to his difficult adjustment to a reserve role, not an ideal spot for a young player.
"It's very difficult," the manager said. "You're still learning about the umpires in the league, the background in ballparks, how they're going to pitch you, what kind of book they have on you. And then you can't just go up there as a pinch-hitter like you're a starter and going to get three or four at-bats, take a couple pitches and scope a guy out. You need to know what you're looking for, go up there looking for it and when you get it, hit it. It takes a while to learn that. ... He'll work his way out of it, because he's got such a great stroke and he's smart and strong. But I hate putting him through that."
Moore and Bernadina will likely continue to get playing time over the next week as Werth recovers from his minor hamstring strain. The veteran outfielder officially was placed on the DL this morning, but because the move was backdated to May 3, he'll be eligible to return next Saturday while the Nationals are in San Diego.
Werth said last night he believes he'll be able to play in several minor-league rehab games later in the week and be activated as soon as he's eligible.
With Werth off the roster for the next eight days, the Nationals recalled fellow outfielder Eury Perez from Class AAA Syracuse to take his spot. The speedy Perez was hitting .346 with seven stolen bases in 23 games and earned the promotion over utilityman Jeff Kobernus, who is hitting .370 but isn't currently on the organization's 40-man roster.