Johnson says Nats need fifth starter for Saturday, updates Harper’s return

Nationals manager Davey Johnson said the team will decide sometime during the Arizona series who will replace injured starter Dan Haren.

“We have (Ross) Ohlendorf here,” Johnson said. “We also have a couple of young pitchers down (in Double-A Harrisburg) like (Nathan) Karns, and there is also a teammate of his.”

Johnson did not mention anyone from Triple-A Syracuse, saying the candidate will “more than likely come from (Double-A).”

“We will make that decision, like I said, in a couple days,” he said.

That teammate is most likely right-hander Taylor Jordan, who is 7-0 with an 0.83 ERA for Harrisburg, with 43 strikeouts and nine walks. After throwing 17 innings in two previous starts, Jordan was limited to five innings last night in the win over Akron. He allowed eight hits but only one run in the start.

“Obviously, we need that starter probably up until the All-Star break,” Johnson said. “(Dan) Haren won’t do any throwing until Thursday. He got treatment on his shoulder. So, we will see how that goes.”

Johnson also does not expect to send Tyler Moore back down to Syracuse when the Nats need that roster spot Saturday. It sounds like Moore will be here a while.

* Johnson said he is happy that outfielder Bryce Harper is playing in a rehab game tonight for high Single-A Potomac in Woodbridge, Va. Harper is scheduled to play three or four innings tonight.

“It is good today that Harper went out and played,” he said. “He is probably four, five, six days (away from getting back). I am not worried so much about his timing as I am as how he reacts after he plays on it. Hopefully, he won’t have any problem playing on it. He isn’t going to baby it.”

Johnson doubts Harper will be available for this weekend’s trip to New York. He envisions four innings or so for Harper tonight. Johnson is hopeful the knee doesn’t react to him playing and that Harper will be ready for next week’s home series against Milwaukee.

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