Wire Taps: FINALLY Washington Nationals' Outfielder Bryce Harper Is Coming Back To The Nation's Capital

Rob Carr

There is still no official announcement, but Bryce Harper is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when the Washington Nationals start a four-game set with the visiting Milwaukee Brewers. Can Harper's return spark the 41-40 Nationals? Can they make a run in the second-half?

"It will be good to get Harp back," Davey Johnson told reporters on Sunday afternoon, anticipating the return of the Washington Nationals' 20-year-old outfielder, Bryce Harper, who has been out of the lineup since May 26th. "He's going to be very aggressive and we just need to keep that momentum going."

"He carried us the first couple months," Johnson said, "and he was the one guy they centered on in the lineup. I mean, they had to pitch him tough. And our lineup is built to where everybody is tough in the lineup, so it's going to be good to get him back, and I'll figure out how to put them back together." When Harper went on the DL, he had a .287/.386/.587 line. With their 2010 no.1 overall pick in the lineup this season, the Nationals are 25-18, without him, they're 16-22. Will he have an immediate impact on the Nats' offense? Will he settle things down on defense, giving the team an everyday left fielder again?

Where will Harper hit? Will the knee hold up? The Nationals have hovered around .500 for weeks now, but have been unable to string together a streak of wins that could help them gain ground on the NL East's first place Atlanta Braves. There's no official announcement on Harper's return, but it's expected soon... until then, it's links and lots of them, many of them about Harper... starting... RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!:

• "The Nationals’ trio of aces has lately been carrying the Nationals, dragging their offense along when necessary." - "Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez are still the Nationals’ key" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• NATS BEAT:

• "[Bryce] Harper, who missed the entire month of June because of a left knee injury, is expected to be activated from the disabled list on Monday..." - "Harper set to come off DL, boost lineup Monday" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "[Bryce] Harper finished a rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg on Saturday night and told reporters he was excited to get back and help the Nationals make a run at first place." - "Nationals looking forward to getting Bryce Harper back in the lineup" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "[Bryce] Harper's impact on the Nationals should be significant. His return to the No. 3 spot in the lineup allows Johnson to assemble the kind of batting order he envisioned all along this season..." - "Harper's impact should be significant" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "Of course, getting Bryce back will be huge. How many teams would like to acquire a power, left-handed bat and an outfielder who plays with his hair on fire?" - Jayson Werth - "Nationals eager for Bryce Harper’s return" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "Harrisburg manager Matt Lecroy spoke with [Bryce] Harper before and after each game to monitor the left knee and see how he felt." - "The Bryce Harper effect" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "On the day the Nationals‘ maddeningly inconsistent first half of the season reached its mathematical midpoint, they put together their finest offensive performance of the year." - "Nationals blast Mets, reach halfway point with a bang" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times


• "'Every team would want to be in first place and be 10, 15 games over .500. That's not always how it works,' said Ryan Zimmerman..." - "Nationals Pastime: Hitting the halfway point" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Today was one of those days. Whether it's a positive omen of more good things to come or just another blip in a mediocre season remains to be seen." - "Nationals hit halfway point on a high" - Mark Zuckerman, Comcast SportsNet Washington

• "But talk to reliever Tyler Clippard and outfielder Jayson Werth, and they believe the Nationals can still win their second straight division title." - "Werth: Nats can 'kick it in gear,' live up to hype" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "[Dan] Haren will throw a simulated game Wednesday, which would put him on track to start in a game July 8, the first day he is eligible, or shortly thereafter." - "Dan Haren may have been more hurt than he thought" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "Dan Haren was out in the visitors' bullpen at Citi Field early Sunday morning throwing from a mound for the first time since being placed on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation last weekend." - "Dan Haren throws a bullpen session, Ross Detwiler plays catch (UPDATED)" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "The stiffness that Ross Detwiler felt in the left side of his lower back following his start Friday is all but gone, manager Davey Johnson said today." - "Nationals Pastime: Detwiler thinks he'll make his next start (plus Haren update and lineups)" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Funny how this lineup often has no trouble inflicting damage on the supposedly feared flamethrowers like Wheeler but can't handle the soft-tossers like Dillon Gee." - "Instant analysis: Nats 13, Mets 2" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• '[Jordan] Zimmermann -- an Auburndale, Wis., native -- is tied for second in the Majors with 11 wins against three losses, and his 2.28 ERA is good for seventh in all of baseball." - "Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals - July 1, 2013" - Kevin Massoth, MLB.com Preview


• "The Nats put up 13 runs today. Tomorrow, they get back their most dangerous hitter in Bryce Harper, the guy who had nine home runs and a 1.150 OPS through the season's first month." - "Nationals Pastime: Hearing from Gonzalez, Suzuki and LaRoche" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "'Any time guys don’t play up to their potential, I’m not handling them right,' [Davey Johnson] said recently. 'Maybe I’m not puttin’ enough pressure on them, maybe I’m not giving them enough opportunity.'" - "Davey Johnson, wrapping up his run on his own terms" - Mike Wise, The Washington Post

• "Kurt Suzuki strode to the mound with a purpose. He stared at Gio Gonzalez and his body language gave away just how steamed the Washington Nationals’ catcher was at his left-hander." - "On Kurt Suzuki and Gio Gonzalez: 'A big brother talking to his younger brother'" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "[Zack] Wheeler has loads of raw ability, but the Nats attacked him early in at-bats and did damage off the right-hander's fastball, which topped out at 98 mph today." - "Nationals Pastime: Johnson recaps Nats' 13-2 blowout win" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Left-hander Gio Gonzalez pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out seven." - "Washington Nationals at New York Mets - June 30, 2013" - Bill Ladson, MLB.com WSH Recap

• "The bad news for the Nats is that they were only a half game behind the Braves back on May 17, meaning they lost six games in the standings during the intervening 44 days." - "Rays of Hope for Nats at Halfway Point of Regular Season" - David Elfin, CBS DC

• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter:

• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "[Anthony] Recker’s first six pitches went for balls and his seventh was launched for a two-run homer by Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond." - "Anthony Recker, New York Mets catcher, pitches ninth inning of 13-2 loss to Washington Nationals" - Brian Lewis, NYPOST.com

• "It is rare these days that the Mets expect a large home crowd, but with a David Wright bobblehead giveaway and the rookie Zack Wheeler’s eagerly awaited home debut, Citi Field was a lively place Sunday." - "Home Crowd Was Waiting for Wheeler’s Fastball, but So Were Nationals" - Jorge Arangure, Jr., NYTimes.com

• "'[Matt] Harvey's maybe the best pitcher I've faced. It's tough to compare anybody to that,' said Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche, who did note that Wheeler has a pretty good two-seamer and curve.'" - "Wheeler gets ripped; can we stop the Harvey comparisons now?" - Jon Heyman, CBSSports.com

• "The bad news for [Anthony] Recker: He allowed a two-run homer to Ian Desmond that might still be going if it hadn’t hit the restaurant in left field. The good news: He pitched better than Brandon Lyon." - "Mets backup catcher Anthony Recker mops up messy loss to Washington Nationals" - Stephen Lorenzo, NY Daily News

• NATS MINORS:

Class-A Auburn: "The Doubledays tied their season high in hits on Sunday afternoon against Jamestown, but it wasn't enough as the Jammers top the Doubledays 6-5 in extra innings." - "Doubledays Drop Heartbreaker in Extras" - Auburn Doubledays News

Class-A Auburn: "Auburn's James Yezzo went 4-for-6 with two RBI, and Jean Carlos Valdez was 3-for-5 with one RBI. Bryan Lippincott registered a pair of hits and runs scored, and Rodriguez finished with two hits." - "Doubledays fall in extra innings to Jammers, 6-5" - Jeremy Houghtaling, Auburn Citizen

Class-A Hagerstown: "The Hagerstown Suns (6-5, 44-34) split two games from the Lexington Legends (6-5, 39-40) Sunday afternoon." - "Hagerstown splits series against Lexington" - Jeff Clark, Hagerstown Suns News

Double-A Harrisburg: "The Baysox jumped on Harrisburg starter Paul Demny right away with six runs in the first, and Demny wasn't able to make it out of the inning." - "Gamboa No-Hits Senators" - Marshall Kelner, Harrisburg Senators News

• "[Paul] Demny walked four in two-thirds of an inning and allowed three hits, including Rosa's grand slam and a two-run double by Seth Loman. He's now yielded 12 runs over his last two starts." - "Eddie Gamboa's hot streak; no-hitter histories for both teams; Tyler Herron's stellar relief: Harrisburg Senators game notebook" - Geoff Morrow, PennLive.com

Double-A Harrisburg:


Triple-A Syracuse: "The Chiefs tallied another run in the fourth inning. Chris Rahl led off the frame with a single. Zach Walters then doubled to left field to score Rahl from first base and put the Chiefs up 2-0." - "Chiefs shut out Red Wings again, 2-0" - Syracuse Chiefs News

• "Monday’s News & Notes" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• "This is exactly what Nationals fans wanted to see. [Matt] Purke has returned the mound and missed bats with his plus fastball/slider combination." - "Minor League Update: Games of June 28-30" - Zach Mortimer, Baseball Prospectus

• NATSTOWN:

• "Bryce Harper is so excited to return, he might've slept in his uniform last night" - Nats Enquirer

• "Monday Quickie - Pace Madness" - Harper, Nationals Baseball

• "Washington Nationals Records by Opponent 2005 to 2013" - Mark Hornbaker, D.C. Baseball History

• "Matthew Purke is looking good..." - Todd Boss, Nationals Arm Race

• "The Washington Nationals have struggled all season with providing run support to even the most potent weapons in their pitching rotation." - "Washington Nationals Game 81 Review: Nats’ offense ignites in series win over Mets" - Alyssa Wolice, District Sports Page

• "The halfway point of the season is an ideal time to take stock of what the Nationals have accomplished so far and what they need to improve. Here are the grades so far..." - "Nationals Buzz: At the midpoint, a mid-season Nationals report card" - Marty Niland, MASNSports.com

• "Nats’ June in review" - Nat Anacostia, Nats Noodles

• "Nats First Half Winners & Losers" - Jamie Mottram, Mr. Irrelevant, a D.C. Sports Blog by the Brothers Mottram

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Braves: "[Freddie] Freeman’s three-run homer in the third inning broke open a tied game and sent the Braves to a 6-2 win Sunday that clinched a three-game sweep of the West-leading Diamondbacks at Turner Field." - "Freeman’s 3-run homer sends Braves to sweep of Dbacks" - David O'Brien, www.ajc.com

Marlins: "We know that the Miami Marlins will be sellers at the 2013 trade deadline, but why are the Fish selling, and how much are they selling?" - "MLB trade rumors: Why are the Marlins sellers (sort of)?" - Michael Jong, Fish Stripes

Phillies: "The first pitch of the sixth inning came in high and hard on Kyle Kendrick." - "Kendrick suffers mild concussion" - Ryan Lawrence, Philadelphia Daily News

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