7/21/2014 8:22 P.M. ET
Harper heating up, but gets day off from Nats' lineup
By Nick Kosmider / Special to MLB.com
DENVER -- Just as he was beginning to heat up, Bryce Harper took a seat.
The Nationals outfielder was held out of manager Matt Williams' lineup for a day of rest on Monday, when first-place Washington began a three-game series with the Rockies.
Harper made a small adjustment to his stance coming out of the All-Star break, and the result was a 5-for-10 performance with a home run and a double in the first series against the Brewers. Harper saw his batting average jump 19 points -- up to .263 -- during that three-game stretch.
With the Nationals set to face three left-handed starters in the series against Colorado, Williams said he wanted to find extra at-bats for switch-hitting Danny Espinosa, who started at second base Monday. Anthony Rendon moved to third base, with Ryan Zimmerman taking over Harper's spot in left.
"He's going to get days [off] on occasion," Williams said. "[Harper] hasn't been seeing the lefties as well as he wants to, so it's a question of getting Danny some at-bats right-handed, certainly, and allowing Zimmerman to get some time in left."
Harper has generally hit left-handers well this season, going 14-for-39 (.359), but Williams indicated that Harper has been struggling to locate balls down in the zone from southpaws in recent days.
Overall, Harper is hitting .220 (11-for-50) since return from the disabled list on June 30, and Williams said he will continue to find rest days for the 21-year-old as he continues to recover fully from a torn thumb ligament.
"He's coming off a very serious injury," Williams said. "So, one, we wanted to get Danny some time. Two, we certainly want to give Bryce a day when he needs it."
LaRoche picks up first multi-hit game of July
DENVER -- Jayson Werth delivered the game-winning hit in the Nationals' 5-4 win over the Brewers on Sunday, but it might have been an inconspicuous second-inning single that brought the biggest sigh of relief.
That early hit by Adam LaRoche broke an 0-for-16 slump for the Nationals' first baseman. He added another single in the fifth for his first multi-hit game since June 28.
It's been a difficult July for LaRoche. Even after Sunday's two-hit outing, he was batting .140 (7-for-50) in the month with no home runs and four RBIs.
Nationals manager Matt Williams said LaRoche has struggled with a mechanical issue in his swing.
"He stands up at the plate," Williams said, "and if he doesn't stay on top of the baseball with that top hand, it can dip a little bit. Then you start to see some balls that are lofted to left field. Knowing him as well as I know him, that's what I see when he's not right."
Williams, though, isn't worrying too much about LaRoche, who hit .307 with 12 home runs and 44 RBIs through the first three months of the season.
"It happens," Williams said. "We don't expect him to do as well for a full season as he did the first couple months. That's pretty good stuff. A little hiccup here and there is going to happen."
Nick Kosmider is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.