BOSTON -- For the first time since he made his major-league debut six weeks ago, Bryce Harper is not in the Nationals' starting lineup.
The 19-year-old outfielder isn't listed among Davey Johnson's starting nine for today's series finale against the Red Sox. He had started all 37 games since his promotion from Class AAA Syracuse on April 28, playing in all but one inning (after he slammed his bat against the dugout wall in Cincinnati and cut his left eye).
Johnson's decision to sit Harper could be health-related. The veteran manager mentioned Thursday that the rookie had been dealing with a "tender" back, though Harper denied there being any problem at the time.
He certainly didn't appear to be in any pain Friday night when he went 3-for-5 with a homer and a double in the Nationals' 7-4 victory. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts yesterday.
The decision could also be matchup-related, with left-hander Jon Lester starting for Boston this afternoon. Harper, though, has actually hit better against lefties so far, boasting a .357 average (15-for-42) with two homers, seven RBI and a 1.092 OPS.
Here's the Nationals' full lineup for today's game...
2B Danny Espinosa
RF Xavier Nady
3B Ryan Zimmerman
DH Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Tyler Moore
C Jesus Flores
CF Roger Bernadina
(P Jordan Zimmermann)