Bryce Harper hit three home runs on Saturday while finishing up his rehab stint with the Washington Nationals’ class AA team, Harrisburg. The Nationals wanted to see how Harper would do in back to back starts before having the superstar rejoin the team on Monday in Washington. In typical Bryce Harper fashion, he announced he is ready to return with the three bombs.
Harper injured his thumb early in the season when he tore a ligament sliding into second base. The Nationals all-star left fielder has missed 57 games this season with the injury and is itching to get back into the line up. Although he has had fun playing five rehab games with the minor league team’s, Bryce Harper needs to help the Washington Nationals finish contending for the NL East.
— Bryce Harper (@Bharper3407) June 25, 2014
After seeing Harper destroy minor league pitching, Matt Williams and the Washington Nationals are desperate to get the slugger back up to the big leagues as well. Harper added another home run in his rehab stint and drove in a total of 11 runs in his five games. The Nationals, who are fighting with the Atlanta Braves for first place, have struggled to hit the ball in Harper’s absence.
The big question facing Nationals manager Matt Williams will be where to put Bryce Harper when he returns this week. Ryan Zimmerman, who hasn’t played third base since April, has been manning left field in Harper’s absence. With Anthony Rendon playing third base and doing well, it seems unlikely that Williams will bench the youngster. That leaves either Denard Span in centerfield or Ryan Zimmerman headed to the bench. Williams told reporters that he has plan, though he’s not ready to unveil it just yet.
“Without getting into too much detail… the plan going forward is to win games and to put guys in position to do that. Without giving up all the secret stuff, [egos] wouldn’t be as much [of a big deal] as you might think.”
When Bryce Harper does return to the Nationals lineup, most likely on Monday, it will be the first time since opening day that the entire team has been healthy. If the Nationals can remain healthy the rest of the way, they hope to be able to pull away in the East. Bryce Harper is the most important component in the Nationals’ plans going forward.
[Image via Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports]