The Washington Times - May 18, 2011, 03:34PM

NEW YORK — In his regularly scheduled interview with ESPN 980 this morning, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was asked quite bluntly about his plans for Bryce Harper and the question on everyone’s minds: Will he be in the big leagues this year?

In perhaps his most definitive statement on the topic, Rizzo shot down the idea. Asked if he’d ruled out Harper getting a promotion to the big leagues even after Sept. 1, he said “Yes, I have.”

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Here is the remainder of the transcript pertaining to Harper:

“It’s not going to happen because he’s not ready for that to happen,” Rizzo said. “He’s got to learn the nuances of the game of baseball. We certainly don’t want to push him to a level where he’s overmatched and struggles even for a short period of time.

“We’re just not going to put him in a place where he has a chance to fail until we feel he’s 100 percent ready for that level and when he is, we will certainly bring him up because we want to win as bad as anybody else. There’s nobody who wants to win worse than I do. If I felt he was ready to hit in the big leagues right now and perform in the big leagues, he’d be up in the big leagues. If he gave us the best chance of winning, he’d be up there trying to help us win.”

As for his possible promotion to even Single-A Potomac, Rizzo was non-committal but did reiterate what he’s said before: that he has a specific plan in mind for Harper — without elaborating on what that plan is.

– On a separate note, condolences go out to Rizzo and his family after the passing of his grandfather, Vito, who passed away Sunday at 103 years old.