Bryce Harper went through batting practice over the weekend, his first swings on the field since he injured his left knee in early August.
FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reported on Saturday that the next step for the 24-year-old outfielder would be a simulated game.
“Most likely the Nationals will bring some instructional league pitchers to Washington,” he said, “... and Harper will take at bat after at bat against them in simulated games.”
That simulated game apparently took place in Atlanta, Georgia’s SunTrust Park today.
Looks like a sim game is happening at Sun Trust Park right now. Bryce Harper is hitting in it.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) September 19, 2017
Looks like Nats prospects Sterling Sharp and Brigham Hill pitched to him.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) September 19, 2017
Sharp, 22, a 16th Round pick by the Nationals back in 2016, and Hill, 22, a 2017 5th Round pick, were both down in West Palm Beach at the Nationals’ facilities for the Instructional League.
According to a report by USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale things went well for Harper.
Bryce Harper was impressive in workout, running, throwing and hitting. The #Nats are encouraged and optimistic he'll return next week.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) September 19, 2017
A return next week for Harper, who has been on the Disabled list since August 12th, when he slipped on the first base bag running out a grounder on a wet field and suffered what GM Mike Rizzo described as a significant bone bruise in his knee and a calf strain, would give the outfielder plenty of time to get at bats in before the start of the NLDS.
Harper told reporters on Sunday that he was taking his time to make sure he was 100% when he did come back.
“I felt a little off, still,” Harper said after the BP session, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“Not my knee, per se, but more just myself. It’s going to take some time to get back and get in focus. Got a long ways to go, and hopefully be back soon.”
Sooner than some expected if he is, in fact, able to return next week.
Before the injury, Harper was back to his 2015 NL MVP form at the plate, putting up a .326/.419/.614 line with 27 doubles and 29 home runs in 106 games and 472 PAs, over which he put up 163 wRC+, and was worth 5.0 fWAR.