Bryce Harper shagged fly balls in Atlanta, before the finale of the Nationals’ three-game set with the Braves, and according to reports on Thursday he could return to Washington’s lineup early next week in Philadelphia.
MASN’s Mark Zuckerman noted that Harper did shag fly balls in SunTrust Park, but, “... did not take batting practice today [on] a planned day off.”
“[Dusty] Baker said he’ll travel with the team to New York and is scheduled to hit off live pitching Saturday at Citi Field. After that, the club will decide the next step, which could include activating the star outfielder off the disabled list.”
Bryce Harper will travel to New York with #Nats, will hit on the field Saturday, then team will decide what to do from there, Dusty says.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) September 21, 2017
FanRag’s Jon Heyman wrote on Thursday night that sources were telling him Harper could return as soon as the Nationals’ series in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.
“Bryce Harper is said by sources to be shooting to return next week, perhaps even as early as Monday at Philadelphia (that will depend on a medical evaluation of his calf). There has been some worry he wouldn’t get any playing time before the playoffs, but the Nats seem to believe he could be only a few days away if all goes well.”
Harper’s not the only one putting in work in an attempt to return in time for the NLDS.
Both Stephen Drew (abdominal strain) and Brian Goodwin (groin) took batting practice on Thursday in Atlanta, though Baker expressed some reservations about how effective they could be after both have been out for a while at this point. Drew has been out of action since July 25th and Goodwin injured his groin on August 13th.
Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies on Wednesday that he thought Goodwin earned a spot on the postseason roster with his play if he’s able to get healthy in time, but as Baker said Thursday, they’ll have to weigh their options as they get closer to October.
“I weigh strongly on what they have done,” Baker told reporters, “... but I also weigh strongly on where they are right now, and you’ve got to take your sentiment out of it, and what are they capable of doing right now, because right now is what counts. And they missed a lot of time, they’re not as far along as Jayson Werth was, or they’re not nearly as far as Bryce Harper is now.
“So there a certain thing called time that you need, in order for them to get right, so I’m hopeful, but I’m not counting on it.”