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.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.