WASHINGTON — Bryce Harper is hitting leadoff for the Washington Nationals for the first time since 2013.
The five-time All-Star and 2015 NL MVP leads the major leagues with 38 walks — eight of them intentional — but entered Tuesday’s game against Pittsburgh in a 5-for-35 slump. He has not had an extra-base hit since April 16.
“Last night I spoke to Harp and I just came to the conclusion: ‘Why not?’” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “He’s a little frustrated and, hopefully, he gets some more pitches to hit.”
Harper led off 16 times in 2013, his second major league season.
“You lead off one time in a game, and every other at-bat it really doesn’t matter,” Harper said.
He leads the NL with a .458 on-base percentage but is frustrated with his walks.
“Yeah, at 25 years old you want to hit the baseball,” Harper said.