The Washington Times - March 25, 2011, 05:56PM

VIERA, Fla. — Bryce Harper took batting practice under the watchful eye of assistant general manager Bob Boone Friday afternoon and Boone came away with the impression that, barring any unforseen setbacks, Harper would be ready for the Single-A Hagerstown season opener on April 7.

Harper sprained his left ankle on Monday after hitting the first base bag awkwardly while running out a single.


The initial reports on Harper were that he had suffered a moderate sprain and the Nationals were going to see how he responded to treatement. General manager Mike Rizzo likened the injury to the one outfielder Corey Brown suffered two games into spring training and did not return from before being optioned to Triple-A Syracuse on March 17.

Hagerstown opens the season in Rome, G.A. on April 7 and has its home opener on April 15.

— Yunesky Maya became the latest Nationals pitcher to be cut from major league camp, optioned to Triple-A Syracuse just before Friday night’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Maya was 1-1 with a 3.29 ERA this spring, making two starts and pitching 13.2 innings Maya allowed five earned runs on 14 hits — three home runs — and six walks. He struck out 10.

The Nationals feel the 29-year-old Maya still needs time to develop and get accustomed to the major league game after so many years of playing internationally. Maya has looked very good at times but hasn’t been able to avoid giving up a big inning and has trouble with a lineup the second time through the batting order.