Bill Ladson

Slumping Harper takes mental break in finale

Nationals star out of starting lineup vs. Mets before pinch-hitting in eighth

Slumping Harper takes mental break in finale

WASHINGTON -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was out of the starting lineup for Wednesday's 2-0 loss to the Mets at Nationals Park before grounding out as a pinch-hitter to end the eighth against winning starter Steven Matz. Manager Dusty Baker saw it as a mental day off.

Harper had been instructed to do nothing but watch the game -- including which players on both sides are going through good or tough stretches.

"You can straighten yourself out by watching other hitters by what they are doing or not doing," Baker said.

After the game, Baker acknowledged it was tough to sit Harper as the Nationals went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. But Baker pointed out that Harper has been in a month-long slump as well.

"Yeah, it was tough to sit Bryce, but you gotta sit him sometime," Baker said. "It was a thing where you don't really sacrifice a game necessarily, but you're hoping that one game will pay dividends for the next 10 to 15 games. This is what you hope. The guys that are out there [on Wednesday], I got full confidence in whoever I put out there to do the job. So hopefully this day off will help Bryce big-time come the [Cardinals] series."

Harper is 14-for-77 (.182) in his last 28 games.

Worth noting

Although he went 2-for-3, including a homer, in Tuesday's 7-4 win over the Mets, Ben Revere was given Wednesday off as a precaution after having missed more than a month because of a right oblique injury. Baker simply wants to make sure Revere is fully healed from the injury and said he will play all four games against the Cardinals this weekend.

Revere did enter Wednesday's game in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement.

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.