Apr 16, 2013, 10:14 PM EST
USA Today Sports Images
Bryce Harper is sitting out his first game of the season tonight.
MIAMI — Davey Johnson has been looking for ways to get his bench players more at-bats, but this wasn’t what the Nationals manager had in mind.
With Bryce Harper and Denard Span each sidelined due to flu-like symptoms and Danny Espinosa still out with a bruised right hand, the Nationals are forced to start three backups in tonight’s game against the Marlins, leaving Johnson with only two healthy players on his bench: pinch-hitter Chad Tracy and catcher Jhonatan Solano.
The Nationals are hopeful neither Harper nor Span is seriously ill, though each outfielder has been unable to keep food down since late last night. Span arrived at Marlins Park in mid-afternoon but was quickly sent back to the team hotel to rest. Harper arrived late, around 4:45 p.m., but did not take the field with his teammates for batting practice.
There’s no telling at this point when either player will be ready to return to the lineup, but Johnson hopes they’ll be back for Wednesday’s series finale.
“I know it’s been going around D.C., the same thing,” Johnson said. “I hope it’s just a 24-hour flu. But with some guys, it hangs on for two or three days.”
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