Sunday, June 30, 2013

Harper: "Everything feels good"

By Ben Standig

BOWIE — Those on hand Saturday night at Prince George's Stadium witnessed perhaps the fourth and final game of Bryce Harper's minor league rehab assignment. They also caught the Nationals slugger looking at a third strike, twice. His other two trips to the plate for the Bowie Baysox ended with a walk and an infield popup.

Hardly ideal, obviously, but there were positives to take away for the outfielder, who hasn't played for the Nationals since May 26 due to left knee bursitis. Harper played the full nine innings for the first time during the current four-game rehab stint. He had three at-bats versus an actual major-league starter, Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, and scored a run. There were also no misadventures on the base paths and in the field.

Fine, let's stop stalling. After two games at Class-A Potomac and two with Harrisburg, everyone wants to know the following:

1) How does Bryce's knee feel?

2) Will he return to the big league club on Monday?

"I feel pretty good right now," said Harper, sporting a mini-version of Jayson Werth's shaggy beard. "I felt pretty good the last couple of days. Nothing really feels like a setback or anything like that. Everything feels good; I'm excited about where I am. Hopefully, we can get going."

Let's talk specifics. Any swelling?

"The knee has felt good. Swelling a little bit, but not anything that we should be scared about," Harper stated. "Just trying to get out there and play. In the first and second game, I was running the bases hard. Even when I came out here, I ran the bases hard. That was really good to see out of myself and I was really excited about that."

Only once on Saturday did a fly ball test Harper in left, but the shot "sailed over my head," Harper said, the batter ending up on second with a double.

On the base paths, Harper reached once with a walk against Chen leading off the fourth. Standing on second with two outs, he scored easily on a double off the left field wall during a four-run inning. Despite the 4-1 lead, Harrisburg fell 6-4.

"I wasn't cautious at all," Harper said when asked about protecting his knee. "I still think it's going to get exposed no matter what. You're just trying to play the game hard and I play the game hard. If I bang, it's going to happen. I'll keep going, get treatment and go from there."

As for the at-bats, Harper went 0-for-2 with a walk against Chen. In the first inning, he struck out looking on 2-2 pitch from the Orioles left-hander, who was making his first rehab assignment. In the fifth, Harper popped up in the infield.

"He's got very good last stuff," Harper said of Chen.

In the eighth, Harper faced the same count against reliever Oliver Drake, who the outfielder recalled from the Arizona Fall League. On the final pitch of the at-bat, Harper didn't take the bat off his shoulder as the right-hander snapped off a nasty splitter. Collectively it marked his first rehab game without a hit.

In four games, Harper is 4-for-11 with a double, a triple, a homer and three walks.

While Harper credited both pitchers, he also hinted at some level of edginess during his first full game, one that dragged in spots.

Harper: "Going out there for the first time playing nine innings, you get a little impatient I guess you could say. I was just trying to get through these innings, trying to really stay intact with everything that you're doing, staying on every single pitch. I tried to do that the best I could, tried to work on everything I could, backing up bases, some other little things."

Oh, let's get back to the other big thing. Are you ready to help the Nationals?

"I really think I can help the team," Harper said. "We're doing a great job right now. A little rough, but we're doing a great job up there...I get excited when I'm laying on my couch watching the game. ... I can't wait to get back up there with the boys and take a run at first place."

So, Monday, are you back?

"I don't know. It just depends on what [Nationals general manager Mike] Rizzo and them say. I'm not going to say anything, I don't know if I'm playing or not. I'll see how I feel tomorrow, see how I feel Monday morning and go from there."


NatsFanSinceStart said...

I completely understand the time table of Harper - and it makes sense -- to a degree. What I don't really understand is that fact that Harper more than showed he's ready to join the Big club and get in the lineup. Tomorrow his team is playing in New York: a two-hour plane and cab ride to the team hotel. Bryce is 'off' tomorrow - he's resting. Resting? For what? Baseball -- players rest in the fall/winter. Not in the summer, not when you're team is in New York. If Harper should happen to read this please note: Get yourself up to N.Y and join your team. This is no time to rest -- you've already done that!

SonnyG10 said...

¿Harp went o-fer. He's ready¿ :)

David Proctor said...

NatsFanSinceStart, he's "resting" because the Nationals want to make sure there's no swelling the next day. This is the first time he's played 9 innings. So if there's no significant swelling tomorrow, he'll be back Monday.

baseballswami said...

Every single player before Bryce - and even Bryce before this-- has been rushed back and ended up missing more time. When will we ever learn that it does not end well, that a slower ramping up makes for a better end result? Our motives are purely selfish and short sighted. It's not Bryce that needs rest, it's Bryce's knee. My worry is that he will join the team and immediately play nine innings game after game, until that knee is a balloon again. If he had come back after a couple of minor league starts - after a month or more off- that is what would have happened because Davey cannot help himself. Every player before this that had only gone a start or two has really stunk it up and not been ready. He finally faced a good pitcher last night-- good. He drew a walk- good. I want my team to win also, but not on the back if an injured kid-- too early in his career for that. So different than the way they handled Stras.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

SonnyG10 said...
¿Harp went o-fer. He's ready¿ :)

I know you are kidding but this game was the 1st time in Bryce's rehab games facing a lefty starter and Chen is a real MLB pitcher who is on his own rehab assignment.

Long before Bryce ran into the outfield wall there were some questioning the effectiveness of Bryce batting against LHPs.

Here's his 2013 slashes:
Against RHPs .337/.435/.692/1.128

and vs LHPs .174/.269/.348/.617

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Davey may want to rethink bringing in Stammen with inherited runners and less than 2 outs. He's allowed 7 inherited runners to score and as we know those don't show up on his ERA. Yesterday, he allowed 1 of TJordan's runners to score and he also gave up 2 earned of his own in 1 2/3 innings.

He just hasn't looked sharp in his last 3 outings and in fact Davey hasn't brought Stammen into a game that the Nats have been ahead since May 31st.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

MLB Trade Rumors ‏@mlbtraderumors
Royals Release Xavier Nady

Xavier Nady was released from the Royals AAA team in Omaha and will become a Free Agent.

Faraz Shaikh said...

Stammen has had bad numbers against Mets pretty much all his career. It is like how JZ is against Cards. They should try to avoid having pitchers pitch against their kryptonite.

phil dunton said...

Xavier Nady would fit right in with the Nats offense. KC is dumping Jeff Francour and he's a .209 hitter. Let's see, where is Matt Stairs these days?

William O. Douglas Loeffler said...

Hard to believe that he can't pinch hit.

mick said...

From a pure math perspective, if Nats can win 90% plus of their home series and 50% of road series, that should get them in post season. This is not an unrealistic goal

jeffwx said...

I really think that once Harper and Ramos are back, the Nats are one decent 4th outfielder away from evening things up with Braves:

So what's the difference between the Braves and Nats. Braves are hitting the Dbacks pretty well, and their offensive numbers are much better than our. Pitching stats are even.
Why is their offense so much better ?
Freddie Freeman, better outfield hitters(unlikely), better bench (Shaffer, Gattis when he was healthy) ?
Harper and Ramos do bring us closer but bench still suffers.
So it may be we are one 4th outfielder away as many have said

Doc said...

So Ghost, looking at Harp's stats against lefties, do you think that we should platoon him with TyMo---just kiddin'!

Bryce has always said that he can't hit Bryan, his lefty bro. Last time I checked a few weeks ago, Bryan was holding his own out of the pen.

jeffwx said...

What I found interesting from Ghost this AM, was Span's poor performance against lefties

Anonymous said...

In other Xavier news, Xavier Paul, who we left rotting a AAA last year despite him batting .315 has been up all year with the Reds and has put up a .259/.357/.422 slash line. How good would HE look sitting on our bench right now (or filling in for Bryce and Werth) given that his OBP would be third on the team?

Doc said...

The Mets' announcers, particularly Keith Hernandez were very impressed with Jordan's changeup.

Hernandez, who had read scouting reports that his change-up was a work in progress, noted on air that " looks like a great pitch for him, and something he can well control...".

jeffwx said...

Gattis 252/317/377
Shaffer 309/397/463
Pena 278/330/443
R. Johnson 247/321/356

Lombo 234/247/297
Berni 186/255/287
Tracy 135/167/257
Moore 157/202/294

Braves Backups all have obp over 300 with slugging over 350.
Our top 4 backups are pitiful with no obp near 300 and little power in slugging
That is the difference in 7 wins IMO

jeffwx said...

We could use a Xavier right about now.

sjm308 said...

Jeffwx - I like your optimism but there is one other thing we need besides a 4th outfielder. We Need To Catch The Damn Ball & Throw The Damn Ball!!

I don't check stats but we have to be one of the worst fielding teams in MLB.

This was interesting to me and probably no one else. I watched the 1st 3 innings just to actually see what our new kid looked like. I can handle Sunshine Bobby (the announcer not Our Sunshine Bobby) for about an inning but the kid was pitching well. I went out to do yardwork and let Charlie and Dave bring home our victory. By the time I had the radio on and was working there was a baserunner for the Mets and they kept talking about "the error" but they never mentioned who made the error and in fact, until Zimm made his 2nd error, I still had no clue. Do most announcers shy away from the negatives? Just wondering.

Looking to win the series!! Please catch the ball and throw the ball to the right place today!

jeffwx said...

Yes, SJM, the defense has not been great at 3b and not getting to balls in the outfield with Lombo/Moore and injured Werth.
However, It would have been hard to win yesterday with only 1 run scored.

Section 222 said...

I certainly understand wanting to be careful with Bryce. What I don't understand is how you are being more careful with him by having him play in AA than back with the Nats. There's nothing that says that when he comes back he has to play every day or every inning. He's playing all out in AA. Seems to me there's just as big a chance of reinjury there as here. Yeah, yeah the game is faster and all that, but Bryce plays at a single speed so I don't seem that much of a difference in risk.

So once it's established that he has his timing back, and I think that was pretty clear after two games, why not bring him up? I'd much prefer that he had taken a few hacks against Dylan Gee yesterday than against the rehabbing O's pitcher. And then, if you want to sit him today or just use him as a PH in the late innings instead of Chad "stick a fork in me I'm done" Tracy, fine.

Section 222 said...

he scored easily on a double off the left field wall

Anyone notice in the video that Bryce was well over halfway to 3B as he waited to see if the fly ball that became a double would be caught? That's why he scored easily when it wasn't. No Marlon Byrd bad baserunning for that guy.

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