VIERA, Fla. — Bryce Harper was not in the Nationals’ lineup on Wednesday as he tried to kick some inflammation in his left hand. Harper, who has reached base in each of his last 10 plate appearances (and is 9-for-9 with a walk) may sit out of Thursday’s game as well, but expected to play on Friday in D.C. against the Yankees.
“When I woke up this morning, it felt fine,” he said. “Yesterday, it kind of got me a little. I thought it was going to be a lot worse when I woke up this morning. It wasn’t. If I was in the lineup today, I could play.”
The swelling, the result of getting jammed on a pitch last Friday and perpetuated by getting jammed again on Tuesday, doesn’t appear to be too serious of an issue. Harper said he doesn’t see it being something that will linger into the season or hold him out of the lineup on Opening Day.
He will continue to use a rubber guard that slips over his thumb when taking batting practice and conceded on Wednesday that he may have to get used to using it in games, too, if it’ll keep him from getting jammed.
“It feels pretty uncomfortable,” he said. “But I might have to get used to it. I don’t want to get jammed up and keep having to do this. We’ll see what happens, see how it feels and go from there.”
Johnson had expressed some reluctance on Tuesday to keep Harper out until Opening Day on Monday, not wanting his left fielder to lose his timing and comfort at the plate.
Harper didn’t think he’d miss Friday’s game in D.C. and said he may even play on Thursday. He also didn’t think any kind of layoff would affect him
“I’ve got like 70 ABs, so it doesn’t really matter,” he said. “Just going through the reps is huge, definitely. Playing Friday would be good, then hitting on Saturday and Sunday, then it’s Opening Day. If I can get BP in there and do the other side of things, that’s good.”
Here are the full lineups for today’s split-squad against the Atlanta Braves. A group of minor leaguers, managed by bench coach Randy Knorr, headed to Jupiter to play the St. Louis Cardinals.
Denard Span CF
Jayson Werth RF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Adam LaRoche 1B
Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Wilson Ramos C
Tyler Moore LF
Ross Detwiler P
Andrelton Simmons SS
Reed Johnson CF
Chris Johnson 1B
Juan Francisco 3B
Evan Gattis LF
Gerald Laird C
Ramiro Pena 2B
Jordan Schafer RF
Eric O’Flaherty P