Matt Williams spoke to reporters on Saturday morning about what the near-future hold for rehabbing, 21-year-old Washington Nationals' outfielder Bryce Harper, who played his second rehab game with the Harrisburg Senators on Friday night after playing two with the High-A Potomac Nationals earlier this week.
"He played last night," Williams said. "I don't know if you guys saw anything about it, he played center last night, nine innings, 1 for 2 with a couple of RBIs, two stolen bases. Made three or four throws from the outfield on balls in the gap, so everything was great. So, it's a potential DH day today. He'll report and see how he feels. Again, nine innings the first time out last night we have to look at how he feels today, but he could DH tonight."
Asked about Harper returning in time for the start of the Nationals' three-game set with the Colorado Rockies on Monday, the Nats' first-year skipper would only say it's a possibility.
"I feel good about it," Williams said. "We'll have to see how he comes out of it though. I think he's progressing really well, I would say I feel good at some point this coming week, Monday is a possibility."
Bryce Harper goes off the video board in right-center field for the 2nd home run of his rehab. @HbgSenators lead 2-0.— Perry Mattern (@pmattern7) June 28, 2014
Harper, of course, tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb sliding into third base on a base-clearing triple in an April 25th game against the San Diego Padres.
Surgery and a lengthy DL stint followed, but after five minor league games it appears he's going to be headed back to the majors at some point soon though as of tonight there's no official announcement.
Judging by the results on the field and at the plate, however, Harper's ready to once again start mashing big league home runs.
In what could be his final rehab start tonight, Harper started in center field and hit three home runs out of Canal Park in Akron, Ohio in a 10-4 Senators' win over the unfortunately monikered RubberDucks. After grounding into a double play in his first at bat against 23-year-old Cleveland prospect Duke Von Schamann, Harper took the right-hander deep to center in his second AB in the third for a two-out solo blast and then hit one out to center off Von Schamann again in the fifth.
He wasn't done.
Bryce Harper is up again, likely for his final time this weekend for #HbgSens. Two on, two out, 5-3 lead in the 8th.— Geoff Morrow (@RageAgainstGMo) June 29, 2014
Bryce Harper just homered again. A 3-run shot. His third home run of the game. Wow. Freaking wow.— Geoff Morrow (@RageAgainstGMo) June 29, 2014
After settling for a single in his fourth trip to the plate, Harper came up with runners on the corners in the eighth and hit a three-run blast out to center off 29-year-old right-hander Toru Murata, picking up RBIs three, four and five of what ended up a 4 for 5, 5 RBI night for the preternaturally-gifted left-handed hitting power bat.
Not a great pic, sorry, but the last two both just to the left of the 400' sign in CF and both high line drives. pic.twitter.com/lpvgWd667j— Terry Byrom (@hbgsensradio) June 29, 2014
Williams was asked after the Nationals' 7-2 doubleheader-sweeping win over the Cubs on Saturday night if he'd heard the reports from Akron:
Asked Williams if he heard what Harper did tonight: "I did. He hit into a double play. ... He also did a couple other things."— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) June 29, 2014
All signs are pointing toward a return on Monday, with Washington Post beat reporter James Wagner writing on Saturday that, "according to a person familiar with the matter," barring any setbacks, "Bryce Harper will rejoin the Nationals on Monday."
• If you can't wait until Monday to see Harper in action, check out the video of tonight's blasts:
• And here's the game story on the Senators' win from PennLive.com's Geoff Morrow:
• We talked about this young up-and-comer on both episodes of Nats Nightly tonight as well. Check out Pt.1 with Dave Nichols from the District Sports Page and Pt.2 with FBB's Doghouse below:
• Game 1 of 2:
• Game 2 of 2: