[ed. note - “Understanding that these updates are incremental, and the process slow-moving, we’ll continue to detail Bryce Harper’s work as he tries to return to the field in time for the end of the regular season and the Washington Nationals’ fourth postseason run in the last six seasons.”]
Dusty Baker updated reporters before tonight’s game on the ongoing process Bryce Harper is going through as Washington’s 24-year-old outfielder works to return from the significant bone bruise to his left knee and sprain of his left ankle suffered when he slipped on a wet first base bag running out a grounder last month in Nationals Park.
“He’s hit some off the tee, and some soft-toss and stuff,” Baker said this afternoon, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“Like I said, that’s part of baseball activities. He threw yesterday. He’s been running lightly. So he’s in the process.”
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo went into more detail about Harper’s progress in his weekly appearance on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies earlier this morning.
“He’s slowly beginning baseball activities,” Rizzo said. “He’s taking some soft swings off the tee and some flips in the cage and we are beginning the process to see when we can get him on the field to take some real baseball activities where we can ramp him up a little bit.
“So, slow progress, and we’re optimistic and Harp is feeling good and he’s optimistic, which is important to me.”
Asked if he felt that Harper was still on track for a return late this season to get in some at bats before the start of the NLDS, Rizzo said it was fair to say that he was.
“I would think ‘on track’ is a good way to put it,” he explained. “I think that’s a good description of it, and we’re going to be cautious and slow-moving with it, we want to make sure he’s 100% when he comes back and ready to hit in the middle of our lineup and help us win in the playoffs. He’s a huge part of our club as you know and maybe the most vital offensive player that we have, and he really sets our lineup up nicely and it would be nice to have him for the playoffs and our expectations are that we will.”
Baker also noted that the five-day break between the final regular season game and the start of the division series, might end of being a blessing for Harper.
“If anything,” Baker said, “I think that five-day layoff will probably help him as much as anybody here, whoever’s been hurt. We’ll see.”