Bryce Harper out of Nats’ lineup for first time since promotion

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Even 19-year-old phenoms need rest, apparently.

Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com’s Nats Insider reports that outfielder Bryce Harper is out of the lineup Sunday for the first time since being promoted to the majors more than six weeks ago.

Tyler Moore will play left field, Roger Bernadina will cover center field and Xavier Nady will handle right as the Nationals try to finish off a three-game sweep of the Red Sox at Boston’s Fenway Park.

Harper recently reported some tenderness in his lower back, but Sunday afternoon’s day off is more about routine rest than anything. The exciting youngster is batting .282/.364/.521 with six home runs, eight doubles and 17 RBI through his first 37 major league games.

Nationals to reinstate Max Scherzer on Thursday

Max Scherzer
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Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.

It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.

While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.

If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.