Harper not in lineup because of back issues

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was not in Sunday’s lineup against the Red Sox because of lower back tightness — “mostly muscular” — according to manager Davey Johnson.

The injury is not considered serious and there isn’t any talk about Harper getting an MRI. Johnson said Harper most likely will be in the lineup on Monday against the Blue Jays.

Harper, 19, has had back issues for at least four days. Johnson would have never known about the injury if not for bench coach Randy Knorr and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz telling Johnson about Harper’s problem.

Later in the morning, Harper didn’t look like he was injured. He was seen jogging in left field at Fenway Park. Later in the day, he was seen hitting in the batting cage.

“Bryce hasn’t said anything to me, but we are just being on the safe side.” Johnson said. “Normally, I don’t have coaches and trainers saying that about players. … Anybody that has a little something going on, I have to be on the safe side. I give them a day.”

Harper’s back problems first surfaced on Thursday against the Mets. With one out in the top of the ninth inning, Mets third baseman David Wright hit the ball to right field. Harper went after the ball, dove and let the ball go by him for a triple. After throwing the ball to the cutoff man, Harper fell to the ground in pain.

After the game, Harper said he was OK, that it wasn’t a big deal. Harper most likely will be available to pinch hit against the Red Sox.

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