MIL@WSH: Detwiler strikes out the side in the second

WASHINGTON -- Left-hander Ross Detwiler is headed back to the 15-day disabled list after he felt discomfort in his back during a bullpen session on Saturday, according to Nationals manager Davey Johnson.

Detwiler missed nearly a month earlier this season with a strained oblique before returning to the rotation on June 13. He has given up 18 earned runs in 25 2/3 innings since then, including two over six innings in his last start on Wednesday.

"He's a tough customer," Johnson said, "but he understood the value of getting by this thing. He got a whole lot of treatment today and so hopefully we can get by; he'll be good coming back after the break."

The left-hander took an extra day off before feeling some discomfort in his back after a bullpen session on Saturday. Pitching coach Steve McCatty watched him struggle and knew he wasn't 100 percent.

"He didn't look the same in his last start, either," Johnson said. "Hopefully if he has to miss a couple starts, he can get some more time off with the [All-Star] break. We just want him back 100 percent."

The Nationals have some flexibility with their rotation, as starter Dan Haren is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday. Haren has missed his last two starts with right shoulder inflammation, but he threw a bullpen session on Saturday and felt fine. He could return to the mound on either Monday or Tuesday. Haren's replacement, rookie Taylor Jordan, has a 2.70 ERA in his first two starts above the Double-A level.

Johnson didn't know when the Nationals will formally announce Detwiler's return to the disabled list.

"Yeah, there's no sense doing anything," he said. "He may have a miraculous recovery, who knows? But I think everybody -- [the] doctors and Det and all of us -- feel like [the DL] is the best way to go."

Harper in lineup after 'nice chat' with Johnson

SD@WSH: Harper lifts a sacrifice fly to center field

WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson noticed a change in Bryce Harper's body language on Friday. Harper was 1-for-19 at the plate since coming off the disabled list on Monday, so Johnson told reporters that he likely would rest the 20-year-old for a few games.

Harper heard the news and sent Johnson a text message: "Play me or trade me."

Though the Nationals' skipper laughed at the text and didn't respond until Saturday morning, the message was loud and clear. The two had a "nice chat" and Johnson kept Harper in the lineup for Saturday's game against the Padres.

"Since trading him is out of the question, I guess I'm going to play him," Johnson said. "I said, 'Come in and see me.' It was a good conversation and he's in the lineup."

Harper hit a solo home run in his first at-bat on Monday after missing 31 games with left knee bursitis. But in his next 18 at-bats, he went hitless with three walks and seven strikeouts. He also dropped two fly balls.

Johnson watched Harper's batting average drop to .260 from .286 and thought that he was "grinding too hard" and needed a break. Harper, it seems, had other ideas.

"[We] had a nice chat," Johnson said, "and as far as I'm concerned, he's good to go."