Harper, Desmond get a rare night off

Harper, Desmond get a rare night off
July 24, 2013, 6:30 pm
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Bryce Harper on the Nats change at hitting coach

Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond each were out of the Nationals' lineup Wednesday night, each starter given a chance to take a breath and let some nagging, minor injuries heal.

Manager Davey Johnson said Harper was getting some treatment on his left knee, though the 20-year-old outfielder hasn't been significantly bothered by the injury that landed him on the disabled list for a month earlier this season. Desmond, meanwhile, has a blister on his left hand that broke open late during Tuesday night's game.

Harper had started all 19 games since returning from the DL on July 1. Though his production (a .214 batting average, one homer, six RBI, .658 OPS) hasn't come close to mirroring his early-season numbers, he insisted his knee hasn't been a factor.

"It's been fine," Harper said. "It's felt good. There hasn't been any major swelling or anything like that. Of course you're going to have a little bit here and there, but every day it's feeling better. Hopefully it's all behind me."

Johnson said Harper did receive treatment on the knee Wednesday but otherwise hasn't needed to take any precautions since returning three weeks ago. Moving forward, the manager said he may have to monitor Harper's condition more closely and perhaps give him an occasional day off.

"I might need to check on him a little more," Johnson said. "He hasn't really been in the training room, and that's a good sign. But again, I'm not going to take any chances of it getting a little aggravated, and then you go out there and it's exacerbated."

Desmond, meanwhile, had started 99 of the Nationals' first 100 games this season. He had been dealing with the blister on his left hand for several days, the result of pressure while swinging the bat, but it opened up Tuesday night on a headfirst slide.

"It was really looking bad last night," said Johnson, who may give Desmond Thursday off as well to give the blister more time to heal.

With Desmond on the bench, Anthony Rendon was due to make his first career start at shortstop. A third baseman in college and in the minors before his transition to second base this season, the rookie did grow up playing shortstop and saw some action there during spring training.

"He's got a strong enough arm from that side of the infield," Johnson said. "He's comfortable with it."