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Nationals' Thursday lineup: Ian Desmond sits, Bryce Harper keeps improving

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Washington Nationals' skipper Matt Williams is giving Ian Desmond a day off today. Bryce Harper is in the lineup vs D-Backs' lefty Wade Miley, however, and he talked last night about continuing to get back in the swing of things at the plate.

After he went 3 for 4 with a run scored in last night's 3-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals' 21-year-old  outfielder Bryce Harper has a .282/.375/.409 line with two doubles and four home runs in 32 games and 128 second-half plate appearances. Three of Harper's four home runs have come in the last 13 games as the power seems to be returning following the surgical procedure he had after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb earlier this season.

Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after last night's game that if Harper maintains a consistent approach at the plate and focuses on hitting the ball back up the middle, the power will eventually take care of itself.

"If he stays through the middle like that he's going to get a lot of base hits," Williams said. "I feel if he trusts himself to do that, the home runs will come. They will come. They'll come on hanging breaking balls and changeups left up in the zone if he can stay middle of the diamond."

"[J]ust trying to come in every single day and try to get my routine down, get everything working, get everything in sequence and [trying] to stay as healthy as I can..." -Bryce Harper on the MLB Network after last night's win

After Harper scored the game's winning run last night on Anthony Rendon's walk-off single, the Nationals' left fielder went on the MLB Network to talk about the run the Nats are on right now, having won nine straight overall, with four walk-offs in the last five game, and his own approach at the plate.

His recent run of offensive succes, Harper said, is a result of, "... just trying to come in every single day and try to get my routine down, get everything working, get everything in sequence and [trying] to stay as healthy as I can, try to be as strong as I can and try to come in every single day and try to win ballgames."

The fifty-seven games he missed on the DL were tough, Harper admitted, and it was hard to come right back in the middle of the season.

"It's been terrible. I was out for those two months," Harper said on MLB Tonight, "so that's like having a whole offseason to go and coming back and doing a whole 'nother Spring Training for a month and just trying to get comfortable, trying to relax, not try to do too much."

You can check out the rest of Harper's interview below:


Harper's hitting sixth in the Nationals' lineup this afternoon in the series finale with the D-Backs in the nation's capital as the Nats try to make it ten straight wins:

Note: It's Ian Desmond's turn to rest today. "Right Side" Danny Espinosa is starting at short against Wade Miley today while Desmond rests.

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