In Nationals' third spot, Harper thriving

In Nationals' third spot, Harper thriving

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is showing that hitting third in lineup agrees with him. This spring, Harper is 16-for-36 (.444) with three home runs and eight RBIs.

Harper said the players hitting in front of him are the reason he is having success. On Wednesday, for example, Denard Span and Jayson Werth were on base when Harper hit a three-run homer against Mets right-hander Matt Harvey. Harper ended up driving in four runs against the Mets.

"Having the two guys in front of me, … they are going to make me better." Harper said. "Denard is unbelievable. He is a leadoff guy and sees a lot of pitches. Werth is the same way. It's just going to make the team better. It's going to be good."

Harper acknowledged that Spring Training is long and wishes the season already started, but he still has to get better in the outfield. In the seventh inning, he threw the ball over the cutoff man's head, allowing the Mets to tie the game at 3. Since he arrived in the big leagues, Harper has been known to miss the cutoff man.

But manager Davey Johnson expects Harper to improve in that area.

"He'll be fine. He is working on it," Johnson said.

Harper also wants to be on the same page as Span, who will play alongside him in center field.

"I'm still trying to work with Denard and see how he communicates out there," Harper said.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Paul Hagen is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.