The second half of the season hasn't gone so well for Bryce Harper. In 75 plate appearances, the Washington Nationals rookie has batted .182/.280/.273 with one home run (one of only three extra-base hits) and four RBI.
Harper has dealt with a stomach virus, according to The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, which caused him to miss his first game since being called up to the majors on Saturday.
That probably has much more to do with his struggles than whether or not he's wearing batting gloves, something he never did in college or the minors, but if Harper thinks no gloves might help, maybe it will. The psyche of a major league hitter—especially a rookie's—can be a fragile thing.
Despite those struggles, Nats manager Davey Johnson evidently intends to keep Harper in the No. 2 spot of the batting order. Considering the Nationals keep on winning and are tied with the Cincinnati Reds for the best record in baseball going into Monday's play, maybe there's no real need to tinker right now.
The Phillies and Marlins are on the Nats' schedule this week. Normally, that would be a formidable slate of games for an upstart contender. But those are two of baseball's most disappointing teams, holding fourth and fifth place in the NL East.
That doesn't mean either team should be dismissed, of course. The Phillies, in particular, are capable of playing major spoilers through the end of the season. But both teams might also present Harper with an opportunity to get himself right.
Otherwise, there could be some interesting decisions for Johnson and GM Mike Rizzo to ponder once Chad Tracy and Jayson Werth finish their rehab assignments and rejoin the Nationals.
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