When he spoke to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s The Sports Junkies last week, Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo said Bryce Harper was progressing in his rehab from the significant bone bruise in his left knee and calf strain that landed the Nationals’ 24-year-old outfielder on the 10-Day Disabled List last month.
“He’s moving around,” Rizzo said, “he played long-toss on the field, he’s starting to do some AlterG treadmill work, so he’s moving around, he’s progressing and we’re being cautious and careful but he’s moving in the right direction.”
In case you’re not familiar with the AlterG treadmill, Rizzo explained.
“This Alter-G is kind of a -- they call it an anti-gravity treadmill where you can reduce your weight, percentage of your weight on the treadmill, so he’s starting to progress with that. Like I said last time, he’s moving around effortlessly, no limp in his gait, we just haven’t pushed him to the point where he’s running or those types of things.
“But [he] was on the field playing long-toss, which is a step in the right direction, he walked some stairs of the stadium the other day, which was a step in the right direction and looks like he’s doing what he needs to do to get back on the field with enough time to play some baseball games to get ready for the postseason.”
When he was on the field this season, Harper was back to his old self after an off-year offensively in 2016, putting up a .326/.419/.614 line, 27 doubles and 29 homers in 106 games and 402 plate appearances, over which he produced 163 wRC+ and was worth 5.0 fWAR.
Harper provided an update of sorts on Sunday, when he spoke with MASN’s Dan Kolko after the Nationals clinched the NL East with a win over the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami’s extra-innings loss to Atlanta.
Kolko asked what level of confidence Harper had that he’d be back in October.
“The training staff that we do have, how hard I try to work, mentally how grinding it can be being in here instead of being out there, it takes time,” Harper said.
“So just trying to do things I can to get better on a daily basis, and of course I want to be out there on that field as much as anybody playing, but I want to be as smart as I can as well, so I want to be out there playing as hard as I can, but it’s going to take some time, and hopefully I’ll be out there when we need it.”
Dusty Baker too talked about Harper’s progress when he talked to MLB Network Radio hosts Casey Stern and Cliff Floyd on Monday afternoon about the concerns he had for the last month in terms of keeping everyone healthy and getting them at bats so that everyone is sharp come October.
“The guys that I’m really worried about probably would be more like [Daniel] Murphy,” he said, “[Ryan] Zimmerman, some guys that have a history of some leg problems or whatever, and I’ve got to get Jayson Werth some at bats so he can be sharp, and last but not least, the most important guy in this equation is Harper. And he’s doing some baseball activities now, and I’m just hoping and praying that he is close to being Bryce Harper.
“I thought about how [Kyle] Schwarber was last year in the World Series,” Baker added, “... and I hope he’s better off and better moving around than that because he’s a better outfielder.”
“Things are pointing forward for us,” Baker said at another point in the interview.
“We’ve got to get Harper and we’ve got to get Jayson Werth back to form, shoot, we just got Trea [Turner] back, looks like he has himself together, Michael [A. Taylor] has come back and the last week or so he’s gotten his timing, and so we’ve still got some parts that we’re trying to get together, but fortunately I don’t have to play my guys as if you’re trying to win it that last day of the season, you can kind of set your pitching, but at the same time, hell, we’re only like, I think, four games behind the [Los Angeles] Dodgers, and so we’ve got a chance of catching them for home field advantage, so we’ve got a lot to play for.”