Two more minor league pitchers, 21-year-old, 2017 9th Round pick Alex Troop, a lefty, and 20-year-old Steven Fuentes, a righty, came to Citi Field from West Palm Beach, FL on Saturday afternoon to pitch to Bryce Harper before the second of three between the Washington Nationals and Mets in Flushing, Queens, New York.
It was the second simulated game for Harper, who’s been out of the Nats’ lineup since August 12th, when he suffered a significant bone bruise in his left knee and calf strain slipping on a wet first base bag in the nation’s capital.
Harper has been through several sessions of batting practice, he’s run the bases to test his knee, shagged fly balls, and taken part in two simulated games now, and, according to reports, could be back as soon as the series with the Philadelphia Phillies in Citizens Bank Park which starts on Monday night.
“He’s close,” Dusty Baker told reporters in New York on Saturday night.
“He’s very close. We just have to talk to him and get a true evaluation of how he feels. And ‘true’ is the key word, because we know how he’s chomping at the bit to come back, we’re chomping at the bit to have him back, but like I said, we have to do what’s best for him and us in the long-run as well.”
Harper told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, that nothing has been decided or ruled out at this point as far as the next step.
“We haven’t really ruled out anything,” Harper explained.
“If it is instructs or it is up here, just trying to see where I’m at. Talk to (general manager Mike) Rizzo, talk to the trainers, talk to Dusty. We want to win these games still up here, so I don’t want to take anything away from anyone else and things like that. So just go from where we’re at and see where we are the next day.”
Baker was asked if he had any advice for Harper, now that the 24-year-old outfielder is close to returning to the field.
“First I got to see where he is before I start giving him advice,” Baker said, “and one thing for a young player, he knows himself and knows his body pretty well. This will certainly be a test, but like I said, I mean, he would really send an influx of confidence on this team to have him back, and so we’ll see where he is and hopefully we can see pretty soon.”