Johnson slides Harper up to second in order

Johnson slides Harper up to second in order

PITTSBURGH -- With Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman back in the lineup, manager Davey Johnson decided to bat Bryce Harper second in the batting order on Tuesday.

Johnson loves Harper's aggressiveness at the plate and wants a lefty presence near the top of the lineup. Infielder Steve Lombardozzi was hitting second and did a great job, both at the plate and at third base. But he is back on the bench because of Zimmerman's return.

"With Lombo out of the lineup, another guy that I like, Harper was a natural choice," Johnson said. "I also like a more left-handed presence in the lineup. He fits up there, too."

Harper said he needs to be patient at the plate hitting second, and look for a pitch up in the strike zone. Entering Tuesday's action against the Pirates, Harper was 8-for-26 (.308) with three RBIs and a stolen base.

"I'll try to be patient for Zimmerman and [Adam] LaRoche," Harper said. "I think having them back in the lineup is going to make us pretty strong, and make us better. I'm going to try to get on base for them and do some things for them. It's going to be very important."