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Nats activate Heisey to replace injured Taylor

MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- As reporters scrambled around him, Chris Heisey stood at his locker in the Nationals' clubhouse Friday afternoon wearing a red shirt that read "Don't mess with the Washington Nationals," featuring a photo of Bryce Harper punching Hunter Strickland from their scuffle in May.

When Heisey went to the DL with a right biceps rupture May 24, he expressed how difficult it is to spend time away from the team. Heisey was activated Friday, affording him the chance to contribute to the motto he donned on his shirt.

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WASHINGTON -- As reporters scrambled around him, Chris Heisey stood at his locker in the Nationals' clubhouse Friday afternoon wearing a red shirt that read "Don't mess with the Washington Nationals," featuring a photo of Bryce Harper punching Hunter Strickland from their scuffle in May.

When Heisey went to the DL with a right biceps rupture May 24, he expressed how difficult it is to spend time away from the team. Heisey was activated Friday, affording him the chance to contribute to the motto he donned on his shirt.

View Full Game Coverage

As expected, Heisey replaced Michael Taylor after the center fielder went to the DL with a right oblique strain he sustained against the Braves on Thursday night.

Heisey was hitting .128 as primarily a pinch-hitter before his injury. Other bench players, such as Adam Lind, Stephen Drew and Ryan Raburn stepped up with Heisey sidelined. In five rehab games with Triple-A Syracuse, Heisey hit 5-for-17 (.294) with two doubles and one home run. He also struck out six times and didn't walk.

"I was able to get 17 at-bats in less than a week period," Heisey said. "I couldn't tell you the last time I was able to get that many at-bats other than Spring Training. It was actually kind of a nice thing to get down there and get my timing, see some pitching, get multiple at-bats multiple days in a row."

Video: PHI@WSH: Heisey hammers game-tying solo home run

The Nationals have dealt with a flurry of outfield injuries this season, as Taylor, Jayson Werth and Adam Eaton are on the DL. That will open up opportunities for Heisey, who'll compete with Brian Goodwin and Raburn for playing time. Harper has been the Nationals' only Opening Day starter in the outfield since Werth went to the DL on June 5.

Despite the setbacks, the Nationals entered their game against the Braves on Friday night with an 8 1/2-game lead in the National League East.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Goodwin will play the most center field, but he also said Heisey could fill in there.

Replacing Taylor's offensive production will be just as difficult as his defensive contributions. Taylor slashed .295/.339/.550 with 12 home runs in 59 games after taking over for Eaton.

Worth noting

Baker hoped Werth would return after the All-Star break, but he's now pinpointing the Nationals' series against the D-backs from July 21-23 as a more realistic return date. Werth sustained a left foot contusion June 4. The 38-year-old felt he rushed back from a broken wrist in 2015, causing him to struggle, and he doesn't want to repeat that mistake.

Kyle Melnick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington.

Washington Nationals, Chris Heisey