ANAHEIM, Calif. — Bryce Harper sat out of the Hagerstown Suns game Tuesday night for the third straight time, continuing to get what Nationals director of player development Doug Harris called “a blow.”
But the reasons for Harper’s absence are two-fold. First, the 18-year-old has never played this much baseball day in, day out, in his life. Second, he’s also dealing with what Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said Tuesday was a bone bruise in his left thumb.
The bruise is not considered serious and Rizzo even went so far as to say that if Harper were in the big leagues, it’s something he’d be playing through. The Nationals don’t have to push him, so they’re not.
He is still definitely playing in the Futures Game on July 10 in Phoenix, A.Z. with Double-A Harrisburg right-hander Brad Peacock, Rizzo said.
– Nationals outfielder Rick Ankiel, who has been on the disabled list since June 18 (retroactive to June 15) with a left intercostal strain, played five innings on Tuesday in Florida and Rizzo said there have been no setbacks as far as the intercostal muscle is concerned since Ankiel began swinging the bat.
– I urge everyone to read the feature my colleague Rich Campbell did on Chien-Ming Wang in his first rehab start of the year with Single-A Hagerstown Monday night. When Rich wrote the story, though, there was some uncertainty as to when Wang would make his next rehab start. Now we know it will be Saturday in Potomac.
Wang’s velocity sat in the high 80s Monday night and topped out at 90 — a good sign, Rizzo said — and he noted that the reports he got said Wang’s stuff was better at the end of the three innings he threw Monday night than at the beginning, an encouraging sign. The work now is for Wang to build up his arm strength so that he is able to throw 100 pitches or so on a starter’s routine.