According to James Wagner of the Washington Post, Nationals star Bryce Harper will be ready to take light swings and play catch next week.
The 21-year-old Harper, who underwent the knife on April 28 to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb, was expected to be shelved until the All-Star break.
However, Nationals (35-32) manager Matt Williams wants to see Harper return to action during the first week of July.
“Bryce Harper (thumb) will pick up a bat & take light swings & play catch for first time next week, per Williams,” tweeted Wagner. “No BP yet; he’s easing in.”
Prior to getting wounded, Harper was batting .289 and had only recorded one homer and 9 RBI over 22 contests.
With Harper sidelined, Washington’s somewhat overachieved and is currently knotted with the Atlanta Braves atop the National League East.
Despite disappointing in the spring, Harper seemed to be on the cusp of reemerging as a force at the plate.
Lacking Harper for an extended period of time, it was hard to envision that Washington wouldn’t struggle deep into the summer months.
A five-tool player and two-time All-Star, Harper hit .274 with 20 dingers and 58 RBI in 2013.
Regrettably, Harper violently collided with the outfield wall at Chavez Ravine last May and was subsequently plagued by lingering shoulder and knee ailments.
Hence, it’s virtually impossible to fairly judge or analyze the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year’s sophomore showing.
Prior to the fiasco in Tinseltown, Harper had a legitimate opportunity to overtake flamethrower Vida Blue as the youngest MVP in MLB history.
Blue’s record was largely secured thanks to the indecision and procrastination of general manager Mike Rizzo.
Following weeks of consideration, Rizzo finally decided to place Harper on the 15-day disabled list and the “Sin City” native eventually missed more than a month on the diamond.
Harper, who will reportedly seek a 12-year contract extension at the conclusion of the 2015 campaign, ultimately had surgery in October to debride and fix the bursa in his left knee.
To even be considered for such an exorbitant raise, Harper must return with a vengeance and utterly dominate America’s pastime.
If the brilliant youngster is unable to illuminate “the District,” Bryce Harper can forget about soliciting such a long-term pact from the Nationals.by