Nats fans eagerly anticipating Harper's return
Bryce Harper's rehab tour will shift tonight from Virginia to Maryland and up one class in the Nationals' farm system, putting the star outfielder on track to come off the disabled list on Monday.
After playing the last two nights for Class A Potomac, Harper is scheduled to play nine innings tonight for Class AA Harrisburg, which is in nearby Bowie for the weekend. He would then sit out Friday before returning to Bowie on Saturday.
"I'd like to see him go nine innings, then probably take tomorrow off, then go back and play again," manager Davey Johnson said. "Just make sure everything's normal and stays calmed down."
Harper got five plate appearances over the last two nights at Potomac, going 2-for-4 with a homer, a double, a walk and a strikeout. He played three innings in left field on Tuesday but was relegated to DH duties Wednesday night due to the threat of rain.
The possibility of more precipitation tonight was a factor in the Nationals' decision to bump Harper up to Class AA, with the conditions in Bowie better than in Woodbridge.
"Hopefully the field is not going to be damp," Johnson said. "I don't know what kind of field is at Bowie, but Potomac's is right at the bottom of a hill, and that field can retain water. Ideally, we'd like him to run around for eight or nine innings, see how the knee reacts to that."
If everything goes according to plan, Harper (out since May 27 with bursitis in his left knee) will be on track to return from the DL on Monday when the Nationals open a homestand against the Brewers.
Meanwhile, though the club won't make an official announcement until it has to, Johnson all but confirmed right-hander Taylor Jordan will be promoted from Harrisburg to start Saturday in New York.
The 24-year-old pitching prospect, currently 7-0 with an 0.83 ERA at Class AA, apparently has already been notified of his pending call-up and will make his big-league debut against the Mets at Citi Field, barring a rainout or some other unforeseen event.
"I'm sure the young man knows he's coming up here," Johnson said with a smirk.