VIERA, Fla. — Bryce Harper’s left ankle sprain is moderate, Nationals general manger Mike Rizzo said today, and likened the 18-year-old phenom’s injury to that of outfielder Corey Brown’s.
Brown, who was sent to minor league camp on Thursday, March 17, played in just two spring training games before he sprained his ankle. He did not play in a game again before being sent out of major league camp — calling into question Harper’s availability for the Hagerstown Suns opener on April 7 in Rome, Ga.
“It’s not a mild sprain,” Rizzo said. “It’s what’s called a medium strain.”
Harper will ice the ankle and be put through mild stretching for the time being while the Nationals’ training staff observes how he responds a full 24-hours out from the injury. Harper hurt the ankle running to first on a single. He turned it when he hit the base and promptly went down.
— With regard to center field, Rizzo called the competition still “open,” but agreed that it would be very difficult to keep all three left-handed players (Nyjer Morgan, Rick Ankiel, Roger Bernadina) on the roster.
None of the three are in the lineup today but here are some of their respective stats for the spring so far:
Morgan: .234 average, .333 OBP, 1 home run, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts, 5 stolen bases, 3 caught stealing
Ankiel: .182 average, .234 OBP, 3 home runs, 3 doubles, nine RBI
Bernadina: .267 average, .340 OBP, 5 walks, 7 RBI, 1 home run
— Rizzo didn’t rule out the Nationals sending Drew Storen to the minor leagues, at least to begin the season. When asked specifically if there was any scenario where that would happen, Rizzo said: “We’ve got eight games left, we’re going to see what happens on the field. There’s going to be competition for the job and we have several different scenarios that could play out.”
— Manager Jim Riggleman said today that it’s looking like Ryan Zimmerman won’t play until Friday but would hopefully be able to play in four of the team’s final five spring games at that point.
Zimmerman, resting a sore groin, will miss his eighth straight game today when the Nationals play the Astros at 1:05 p.m., but was out on the field this morning taking ground balls.