The Washington Times - March 24, 2013, 12:22PM

VIERA, Fla. — Bryce Harper was back in the Washington Nationals lineup on Sunday, one day after manager Davey Johnson scratched the left fielder with some swelling in his left hand, the result of being jammed by a pitch in Friday’s game.

“It’s still sore,” Harper said as he prepared to take batting practice. “But I’m going to play.”

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Harper, who was apparently jammed on a pitch he still laced into right field on Friday, did allow that he would try to use a rubber guard that slips over his thumb and nestles into the space between his thumb and his index finger.

Several players use the small piece to help protect them from getting jammed, but Harper wasn’t sure if he would be comfortable with it because of how far into that space on his hand he usually holds his bat.

“I don’t know if I feel comfortable with it,” he said. “But if it keeps me from getting jammed, I might get more hits.”

Harper said he would give it a try and see how it felt, but he was entirely unconcerned about the issue becoming something significant.

Manager Davey Johnson said the adjustment to using the guard shouldn’t really be too much of an issue, but it is just about what players are used to. Johnson likened it to players who choose to wear a protective cup and those who don’t. It’s personal preference.

Harper, who is having a torrid spring training at the plate, has dealt with a somewhat similar issue before. When he was in Single-A Hagerstown in 2011, Harper developed severe swelling in his thumb over the course of a week. He tried using a guard then, too, but stopped after about a week.

“Hagerstown was way worse,” he said. “It’s all good. I’ll be fine.

“If it does hurt, I’m still going to play anyway, so, it’s all good.”

Here are the lineups for this afternoon’s game between the Nationals and the Braves:

Nationals

Denard Span CF
Jayson Werth RF
Bryce Harper LF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Adam LaRoche 1B
Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Kurt Suzuki C
Jordan Zimmermann P

Braves

Andrelton Simmons SS
Jason Heyward RF
Justin Upton LF
Freddie Freeman 1B
Dan Uggla 2B
Juan Francisco 3B
Reed Johnson CF
Matt Pagnozzi C
Kris Medlen P