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Bryce Harper takes batting practice in Nationals Park, still hopes to return for postseason...

Bryce Harper ran the bases in Nationals Park this afternoon, then came back out a while later for batting practice, taking some swings for the first time on the field since suffering his knee injury last month.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Bryce Harper, who ran the bases early on Sunday afternoon in the nation’s capital, took batting practice on the field in Nationals Park as well, for the first time since injuring his knee slipping on a wet first base bag on August 12th.

The significant bone bruise in his left knee and calf sprain Harper suffered on that play were a better result than what was originally feared, but as GM Mike Rizzo explained in the aftermath of the injury, it was a significant bone bruise, and one that would take a while to heal though they held out hope the 24-year-old outfielder would return to get some at bats in late this season and be ready for the postseason.

Earlier this weekend FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reported that he’d spoken to both Harper and Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker about the possibility of Harper getting back in the lineup in the near future.

“Dusty Baker told us this morning that Harper is on the way,” Rosenthal said.

“He ran the bases today, played some long toss, as long as he keeps progressing he’ll face some kind of live pitching soon.

“Most likely the Nationals will bring some instructional league pitchers to Washington and Harper will take at bat after at bat against them in simulated games.

“I talked to Harper the other day,” Rosenthal added, “and he told me, ‘I just want to be healthy. As long as I can feel good running on my knee, that’s the biggest thing. I’ll hunt pitches, hunt what I can hit.’”

Harper spoke to reporters after his batting practice session this afternoon, and he was asked if he still thought he could return in time for the postseason.

"I hope so,” Harper said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman on Twitter.

That's definitely in my head. ... But it takes time."

Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies last Wednesday that Harper remained on track with their original assessment that he could be back before the end of the regular season.

“I would think on-track is a good way to put it,” Rizzo said.

“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.”