Friday, March 25, 2011, 5:53 p.m.
By Mark Zuckerman
VIERA, Fla. -- Bryce Harper's sprained left ankle has healed enough to convince Washington Nationals executives the top prospect should be ready for Class A Hagerstown's season opener on April 7.
Harper, who injured himself Monday trying to beat out a grounder to short in a minor-league intrasquad game, took batting practice Friday and showed no ill effects from the sprain. Bob Boone, the club's assistant general manager and vice president of player development, watched Harper's BP session and said the 18-year-old should be ready for Opening Day.
In other news, the Nationals optioned right-hander Yunesky Maya to Class AAA Syracuse before Friday night's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Maya was hoping to make the Opening Day rotation and posted a 3.92 ERA this spring but was a victim of the fact he had minor-league options while No. 5 starter Tom Gorzelanny did not.
Maya will open the season in Syracuse's rotation, where he'll likely be joined soon by left-hander Ross Detwiler. Those two are expected to be the first starters promoted when the Nationals need pitching help this season.