Span, a left-handed batter, is hitting just .154 with just two extra-base hits and one RBI in 91 at-bats against left-handed pitching this season. The Nationals acquired Hairston to have an outfielder who could come off the bench and face lefties. Hairston will also start Wednesday against southpaw Cliff Lee, and manager Davey Johnson is happy to have more outfielders at his disposal.
"I think he'll come out of it," Johnson said of Span's slump against lefties. "But I also think it sends a message to our league that I will use Hairston in his spot. And it also causes problems for other managers when they go to their bullpen, that I might hit Hairston."
The start in center field was the first for Harper this season. He's played one game there, but shifted to center after starting the game in left field. Harper did get a lot of center-field experience under his belt last season, and Johnson did not seem to think the switch would be a problem for the 20-year-old.
"I talked to him yesterday, I said 'Harp, you think your legs are good enough to play center field?' " Johnson said. "[He said] 'Yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah, I'm ready to play center.' He likes playing center field. He can run around and rumble."
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.