Nationals to bring up top prospect Bryce Harper

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Bryce Harper tends to do things ahead of schedule, so it should surprise no one that he’s already heading to the major leagues.

The 19-year-old outfielder, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft, will be recalled by the Washington Nationals from Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday.

“I’m going to put him in left field and let him play,” manager Davey Johnson said Friday in Los Angeles, where he will bat Harper seventh for the final two games of a series at Dodger Stadium. “Harp had a great spring training, he’s a phenomenal talent, and he’s been swinging the bat down there. But we have a need here for a left-handed bat, and he’s the guy that fits the role. As far as I’m concerned, he’s earned the right to get the opportunity.”

Widely regarded as baseball’s top prospect, Harper will take the roster spot of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who is going on the 15-day disabled list _ retroactive to April 21 _ with inflammation in his right shoulder.

“Suffice it to say, this isn’t the coming-out party for Bryce that we had in mind,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said on a conference call. “This isn’t the optimal situation developmentally.”

Harper was the first overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft, and Zimmerman was the fourth selection in 2005. Once they get to appear in the same lineup, things should be even more interesting for the Nationals, who took an NL-best 14-5 record into Friday night’s game.

Bryce is a very talented player and he’s going to help us win games. I don’t think they would call up anyone that’s not going to help us,” Zimmerman said. “He can help us in a lot of ways. With as much stuff that’s going to happen tomorrow with the media and everything, I think he’s ready to handle the situation.”

Zimmerman is batting .224 with a home run and seven RBIs in 15 games. Johnson said his third baseman will begin throwing Tuesday and start swinging a bat in a week.

“We all work so hard in the offseason to get ready, and my body was feeling great. And then for something like this to happen that you have no control over, it’s very frustrating,” Zimmerman said. “But I have to stay positive, and we’ll take our time to get it right. These guys will keep doing what they’ve been doing the first 19 games, and I’ll be back before you know it. It’s definitely better to get this done and get it out of the way, just so I won’t have to worry about it for the rest of the year.”

The Nationals also placed reliever Brad Lidge on the 15-day disabled list with an abdominal wall strain, the second of the team’s three potential closers to go on the shelf. Lidge, whose move is retroactive to April 22, had been sharing closer duties with Henry Rodriguez while Drew Storen recovers from elbow surgery.

“It’s pretty frustrating right now,” Lidge said. “You want to be there for your teammates the whole year. I haven’t had anything like this before, so I’m concerned about that.”

Johnson expects Lidge to be sidelined at least a month.

“It’s in between a sports hernia and a hernia,” Johnson said. “He’s going to get examined again in Philadelphia by the top hernia guy in the country and have an MRI and check it out further. It’s bothered him for the last three weeks and it’s just gotten worse and worse. But he was trying to play through it, and it got real severe when I warmed him up in San Diego.”

Washington also recalled right-hander Ryan Perry from Triple-A Syracuse.

Harper skipped his final year of high school, earned his GED, then played one season of junior college baseball at the College of Southern Nevada to become eligible for the draft and get a head-start on his professional career. He signed a five-year, $9.9 million contract, including $6.5 million in signing bonuses, with the Nationals in August 2010.

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