Bryce Harper was 2-for-4 with a walk, a single and a triple in five plate appearances in his third rehab game, this one with Double-A Harrisburg, on Thursday night. He scored from first early in the game and reports were that Harper was running just fine on his injured left knee.
And after the Washington Nationals lost to the Diamondbacks 3-2 in 11 innings, manager Davey Johnson left open the possibility that Harper could return to the active roster this weekend.
The plan is that, barring any setbacks in his rehab, Harper is expected rejoin the Nationals on Monday when they open a homestand against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Harper was expected to play nine innings Thursday night, he only played six but was only pulled because the game dragged on and Harper had already gotten five plate appearances. Friday is scheduled to be an off day for Harper and he was to play another full game with Double-A Harrisburg in Bowie, Md., on Saturday.
But given how well Harper seems to be coming through his early rehab games, Johnson indicated that if Harper feels up to it the team would see no reason to wait any longer before activating him.
“I’ll take him whenever he’s ready,” Johnson said. “I think we just need to talk to him, see how he’s feeling.
“Tomorrow was going to be off, then he was gonna go back to playing. So we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Harper has not played for the Nationals since May 26 and he is now 18 days removed from a visit to Dr. James Andrews, where he received a cortisone shot and a platelet-rich plasma injection to help alleviate some of the swelling and inflammation caused by bursitis in his left knee.
The Nationals could choose to keep Harper on the original schedule and simply have him meet the team when they return home on Monday. But given the way he’s played and how badly the Nationals’ offense could use him, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see the 20-year-old in New York this weekend, either.