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Bryce Harper returns to Washington Nationals' lineup for series finale in LA

Bryce Harper sat out of last night's game against the Los Angeles DOdgers with left knee soreness, but the Washington Nationals' 22-year-old slugger is back in the lineup tonight for the finale of the three-game set.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Williams spoke to reporters in Los Angeles, CA before last night's loss about the sore left knee which led to Bryce Harper being scratched from the lineup for the second game of three with the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine.

Harper injured the knee on a diving play in right field during the series opener in Dodger Stadium, but the 22-year-old outfielder played through the game only to have the knee swell up on him overnight.

"On occasion he bangs that knee, that's the side that he's had issues with and when he hits it hard, sometimes it just swells up on him." -Matt Williams on Bryce Harper injuring his knee

Williams said they wanted to avoid any situation where Harper might do further damage.

"Any time he gets on base, that's his sliding side, that's the side he slides on, so we'll try to get that swelling out of there," he explained.

"It's day-to-day right now, we'll just have to see how it is tomorrow.

"On occasion he bangs that knee, that's the side that he's had issues with and when he hits it hard, sometimes it just swells up on him. So he doesn't have any issue structurally we can see, and it's just swollen."

Harper spoke to reporters, including the Washington Post's James Wagner, after the game, telling them it was "still pretty sore and still pretty swollen," though he didn't rule out the possibility of playing in the series finale.

"If I can get back in there [Wednesday], I will," Harper told the WaPost reporter. "If not, I’ll get back in there in San Fran."

"I didn’t want to slide on it again and reenact what happened two years ago. I was trying to be a little bit cautious and know how I feel and know what my body can handle."

Williams provided an update on Harper's status in an MLB Network Radio interview this morning.

"He dove for a ball the first night in LA and banged it pretty good," Williams said.

"Got through the game and it was a little sore, so we iced it after and then he showed up yesterday and it was pretty swollen.

"So good rounds of treatment yesterday, didn't play in the game last night, and the swelling has subsided, so we'll see how he is when we get to the ballpark today. But last night just unable to go, so hopefully it's better today and he's able to get back in there."

"He banged it pretty good on the dive the night before," Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Grant Paulsen this afternoon.

"Talking to him yesterday before the game, it didn't sound like it was anything too drastic. Possibility he could play today, but I haven't seen him yet today, it was swelled up a little bit, he should be fine."

When the Nationals' lineup was announced tonight, Harper was penciled again. He's playing right and batting third against Dodgers' lefty Clayton Kershaw, against whom he's 1 for 9 with a home run thus far in their respective careers.

Here's the Nationals' lineup: