The Washington Times - March 8, 2012, 01:10PM

VIERA, Fla. — Bryce Harper was a late scratch from Thursday’s game with left calf tightness that he woke up with Thursday morning. Harper was slated to play right field in the Nationals’ 1 p.m. contest vs. the Astros but after trying to loosen the calf by riding a stationary bike Thursday morning, he was scratched just moments before the first pitch. 

He’s officially listed as day-to-day and from talking to the 19-year-old he seemed to think that was an apt description of the injury. 

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“I’ll try to get back in there tomorrow or the next day,” Harper said. “I’m just trying to be as careful as I can. I’d rather miss two or three days down here than five during the season.”

“He’ll probably be down two or three days,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson.

The tightness didn’t bother Harper when he was hitting, he said, but he could feel it when he was tracking balls in the outfield during the team’s pre-game workout. Brett Carroll, who was set to play center field, moved to right field in Harper’s absence and Eury Perez got the start in center field instead. 

Harper missed the final few weeks of the 2011 season after a strained right hamstring but it doesn’t appear that this is anything that serious at this point. It’s the first time Harper’s dealt with an issue with his calf.

“I’ve never felt it before,” he said. “That was the weird thing. I woke up this morning and I had no clue, like ‘What’s going on right here?’” 

Harper, who had the day off on Wednesday, was slated to travel with the Nationals to Jupiter on Friday night and was set to travel to Lakeland for Saturday’s split-squad contest in which he’d face off with Justin Verlander. Nationals manager Davey Johnson is extremely cautious with players who are going through any type of injury so it’d be a surprise at this point to see Harper at least on Friday night’s trip.