Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo surprised a lot of baseball people Friday by calling up 19-year-old Bryce Harper from Triple-A Syracuse to replace Ryan Zimmerman, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of right shoulder inflammation.
"We have a plan in place for Bryce," Rizzo said by conference call. "Losing hitters like Michael Morse (lat injury) and Zimmerman for an extended time expedited this move. It is not the coming-out party we had in mind for Bryce. We wanted to add a left-handed bat to the lineup, and we are very comfortable with him in left field."
Harper was batting .250 through 20 games at Triple-A but has shown well in every stop he has made along the way to the majors. It is still unknown if Harper will be able to stay with the Nationals for the entire season, but the offense could certainly use a boost. Washington has managed only 12 home runs in 20 games, which ranks in the bottom half of the league.
It also shows where Rizzo and the Nationals are in trying to win this season. The series in Los Angeles is a big one against a hot Dodgers team, and Rizzo was not content with playing three more games with less than a full roster.
Despite the 3-2 loss Friday in Los Angeles, Saturday lines up to be one of the more anticipated games in Nationals history with Harper making his major league debut and Stephen Strasburg starting for the first time in his home state of California.