Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper took a significant step forward in his rehab from left thumb surgery on Tuesday, as the two-time All-Star took swings with two hands for the first time in a batting cage.
Manager Matt Williams described it as soft-toss and said he could be close to resuming full baseball activities on the field.
"Today he took some swings in the cage," Williams said. "He'll continue to do that and I think we'll get him on the field in the next few days and see where he's at. He feels good, sat with him today and talked to him about how he's feeling and how he's doing. He feels ready to go, to take the next step."
Harper has been on the disabled list since April 25 after tearing the UCL in his left thumb while sliding into third base. The Nats placed him on the 15-day disabled list on April 27, two days before he had surgery to repair the ligament.
Harper still does not have a specific timeline to return, as the Nationals need to see how his thumb reacts over the next week from the vibrations of a bat while hitting.
"You don't know how it's really going to react," Williams said. "We'll see how he steps things up and when he's ready to go. Beyond July 1st, it's probably somewhere we can say that if it all goes well it's kind of the timeframe. But we'll have to see how it goes."
Williams did add, however, that Harper is on the right track and beginning to progress quickly towards a return.
"He didn't have any complaints about [the thumb]. Again, it's not full-go and it's not full batting practice yet or any of that. But he's excited about the progression of it, moving forward, so it won't be long."
Harper holds a .289 average with one home run and nine RBI in 22 games played this season.