In the five games he had played entering Thursday's action, Harper was 5-for-13 (.385) with two RBIs. His best game came Wednesday, when he went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI against Arizona.
"Why not?" said manager Davey Johnson after he was asked why he decided to put Harper in the middle of the order. "He is swinging the bat well. He has had quality at-bats. We are trying to put our guys [in the lineup] that are swinging the bats best. ... It was a pretty good choice to me. ... He has the pop, a good eye, he uses the whole field."
The last time Harper hit that high in the lineup was last season when he was with Class A Hagerstown. Harper, 19, didn't know he was hitting third until he was approached by the media before the game.
"That's great, cool," Harper said. "I have no words for that. I just hope I can make something happen and get us going."
Although he is hitting third, Harper said his approach at the plate will not change.
"The only thing that changes [down in the order] is that you watch the pitcher longer than two [at-bats]. I'm trying to go up there [and] get something I can handle and drive," Harper said.