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Bryce Harper 0 for 4 with 4 Ks in return to Nationals’ lineup...

Will Bryce Harper turn things around with a strong October in a somewhat disappointing follow-up to his MVP-worthy 2015 campaign?

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Dusty Baker decided that after Bryce Harper told him he was good to go on Thursday, he’d wait a day to make sure Washington’s struggling 23-year-old defending NL MVP was past the thumb injury he suffered last Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.

“He might have been ready to go [Thursday],” Baker said, as quoted by Washington Post writer Jorge Castillo.

“So if a guy tells me he’s ready, if I have a luxury, I like to give them one more day off. I just noticed that a lot of guys say they’re ready and you bring them back and they’re really not ready. I would prefer that you be champing at the bit to get back [instead] of a person to just say that you’re ready.”

Harper missed four games with the jammed right thumb, sustained when Pirates’ third baseman Jung Ho Kang deked him into a late, awkward slide into third base on a triple to right in the series finale in Pittsburgh.

Harper was in the midst of a mini-revival before the injury, with hits in 6 of 16 at bats after he’d gone just 1 for 23 in the previous nine games. He was 1 for 2 with the triple before the injury on Sunday.

He sat out of all four games with the Diamondbacks, but returned for the start of the regular-season-ending series with the Miami Marlins last night and went 0 for 4 with 4 Ks on a rainy night in the nation’s capital.

“I felt great tonight,” Harper said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after the game.

“I felt really good. Even with the four strikeouts. It happens. I missed some pitches I should’ve drove. I felt great.”

Baker bristled when asked after the loss to the Fish for his thoughts on Harper’s ABs.

“C’mon, man,” he said to the reporter who asked. “What do you expect me to say, he struck out four times. What did you think about those at bats? He was swinging good before he went down. He was rusty, we’ve got to get the rust off him before we start the playoffs.

“We’ve just got to knock off the rust and hopefully he can get it in the next couple days and if not then we’ve got a week for him to get it.”

Harper finished the night with a .242/.372/.441 line, 23 doubles, 24 HRs, 106 walks and 113 Ks in 145 games and 618 plate appearances.