NEW YORK — Bryce Harper will not be in the Nationals' lineup for the second half of their day-night doubleheader after taking a 97-mph fastball to his left shin in the opener against the Mets.
Harper was struck in his back leg by Noah Syndergaard's sixth-inning pitch, falling to the ground in pain. He managed to stay in the game and two innings later hit the 2-run homer that propelled the Nationals to a 3-1 victory, but afterward had his leg wrapped in ice and was limping around the visitors' clubhouse at Citi Field.
"It felt like he threw it through me," he said following Game 1. "Not very fun to get hit in the shin with a heater like that. We'll see how I feel going into the second game. I want that RBI, so hopefully I can play tonight, see how I feel. But I won't push it."
Harper is attempting to drive in 100 runs for the first time in his career, still one shy of the century mark. He's also trying to win the NL batting title. After going 1-for-3 in Saturday afternoon's game, his batting average rose to .331. Miami's Dee Gordon had one hit in his first two at-bats Saturday in the opener of his team's doubleheader in Philadelphia, raising his batting average to .329.
"It would be awesome," Harper said of a 100-RBI season. "It's something that would be great for me. It would be the first time in my career. I had 98 in college, so I was two away. I don't want to get stuck at 99."
RELATED: Harper homers, as Nats take 1st of doubleheader at Mets
He has not played since Game 2 of the National League Division Series when he pulled up because of a hamstring strain after crossing first base. The strain was described at the time as “mild.” Robles has been working toward a return since then.
“We're going to run him a little bit [Sunday],” Davey Martinez said Sunday on a conference call. “He's got to get some treatment, and then we'll see [Monday]. He'll participate in BP and do a little bit more running, and we'll see where we're at [Monday].
“I'm not going to anticipate anything until he comes in [Monday], but he's progressing, and hopefully he'll be ready [Monday].”
Michael A. Taylor replaced Robles in center field. He hit an important solo home run Saturday and is hitting .300 in the postseason. He also made a significant judgment error in the outfield which allowed the Cardinals’ lone Game 2 -- and series -- run to score.
Martinez made it sound like Taylor’s time as the starting center fielder is over when Robles is ready to return.
“Victor has been in center field all year, and he's played really well for us,” Martinez said. “When he's healthy, he'll get a chance to play. But like I said before, we want him to be at 100 percent. So until then, we'll see what happens here in the next day or so.”
Few other changes are expected Monday. Stephen Strasburg will start. Kurt Suzuki -- despite his lack of postseason hitting and trouble throwing out runners -- should be behind the plate.
Reliever Roenis Elías, who has not thrown a pitch in the major leagues since Sept. 5, may be in the mix Monday because Patrick Corbin’s bullpen appearances are now on hold prior to his Game 4 start.
“Moving forward, Elias is going to have to get those big outs against the lefties here in the next couple days,” Martinez said.
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After the Washington Nationals won back-to-back NL East division titles from 2017-2018 but failed to make it past the NLDS in each of those seasons, they cut bait with manager Dusty Baker by electing not to re-sign him when his contract expired.
Baker now has a chance to return to a managerial role, as the Chicago Tribune is reporting that he’s earned an interview with the Philadelphia Phillies after they fired Gabe Kapler last week.
The Phillies of course employ the services of Bryce Harper, who played under Baker in Washington and has spoken highly of him in the past.
After the Nats let him go, Baker stepped away from baseball for a year before joining the San Francisco Giants as a special adviser to the CEO last season. The two-time All-Star outfielder has managed the Giants, Cubs, Reds and Nationals over parts of 22 seasons, amassing a career record of 1,863-1,636 (.532).
Of the 15 skippers with more wins in their managerial careers, 13 are in the Hall of Fame and one (Bruce Bochy) is a shoo-in to get there. The other is Gene Mauch, who joins Baker as the only two managers with at least 1,600 wins to never claim a World Series title.
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