When Davey Johnson and Washington Nationals' outfielder Bryce Harper discussed potential starting dates for the 20-year-old slugger's rehab assignment in separate interviews this weekend, there was a difference of opinion on just when Harper would be ready to head out to an affiliate. While Johnson said his left fielder would likely be ready to head out on Tuesday night to start getting some at bats, Harper told reporters that Tuesday might be an optimistic estimate. "It just depends how I feel today and tomorrow," Harper said before Saturday's game against the Colorado Rockies. "Monday is an off day, which is good. Tuesday, that's kind of early. I'm thinking Wednesday or Thursday, maybe."
When Harper's comments about the start date and how long a rehab assignment he might need to get ready were brought to Johnson's attention a little later on Saturday, he told reporters he would talk to the outfielder. "I'll have a conversation with him about that," the 70-year-old skipper said, "When a player starts playing, it's really up to me, what I think they need. Not up to the player. I'm always trying to do what's best for the player. But at the same time, it's my job to know when they're ready and when they're not." Johnson didn't think Harper would need much time to get ready. "Knowing, Harp," Johnson said, "I don't think he's going to need much. But the main thing, it's not so much timing as it is just seeing how he feels after and how the knee reacts to being out there for nine innings."
According to a report tonight by CSNWashington.com's Mark Zuckerman, Harper didn't think he'd be ready until Wednesday, "... but bumped up the schedule after another strong BP session today at the ballpark, according to a source familiar with the Nationals' plan for the 20-year-old outfielder."
Harper had a PRP injection and cortisone shot in his left knee after a trip to see Dr. James Andrews a couple weeks back now, in an attempt to bring down the swelling caused by bursitis in the knee which has bothered Harper since he injured it running into outfield walls in Atlanta and LA and on sliding plays in the outfield and on the basepaths in Nationals Park.
The initial report by CSNWashington.com's Mark Zuckerman has since been confirmed by the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore:
Nats GM Mike Rizzo said Bryce Harper will begin his minor league rehab assignment tomorrow at Class A Potomac.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) June 25, 2013
Mr. Zuckerman speculated in his article that if all went well, Harper could potentially return in time for this upcoming weekend's series with the New York Mets on the road in Citi Field.