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Harper heating up, but gets day off from Nats' lineup

Harper heating up, but gets day off from Nats' lineup play video for Harper heating up, but gets day off from Nats' lineup

DENVER -- Just as he was beginning to heat up, Bryce Harper took a seat.

The Nationals outfielder was held out of manager Matt Williams' lineup for a day of rest on Monday, when first-place Washington began a three-game series with the Rockies.

Harper made a small adjustment to his stance coming out of the All-Star break, and the result was a 5-for-10 performance with a home run and a double in the first series against the Brewers. Harper saw his batting average jump 19 points -- up to .263 -- during that three-game stretch.

With the Nationals set to face three left-handed starters in the series against Colorado, Williams said he wanted to find extra at-bats for switch-hitting Danny Espinosa, who started at second base Monday. Anthony Rendon moved to third base, with Ryan Zimmerman taking over Harper's spot in left.

"He's going to get days [off] on occasion," Williams said. "[Harper] hasn't been seeing the lefties as well as he wants to, so it's a question of getting Danny some at-bats right-handed, certainly, and allowing Zimmerman to get some time in left."

Harper has generally hit left-handers well this season, going 14-for-39 (.359), but Williams indicated that Harper has been struggling to locate balls down in the zone from southpaws in recent days.

Overall, Harper is hitting .220 (11-for-50) since return from the disabled list on June 30, and Williams said he will continue to find rest days for the 21-year-old as he continues to recover fully from a torn thumb ligament.

"He's coming off a very serious injury," Williams said. "So, one, we wanted to get Danny some time. Two, we certainly want to give Bryce a day when he needs it."

Nick Kosmider is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.