The Bryce Harper effect

He did it last season when he burst onto the scene in Los Angeles.

Now, 14 months later, coming off an injury to his knee this season, which also ironically happened at Dodger Stadium, he is ready to make his “re-debut” with the Nationals back in D.C. tonight.

And similar to that April 28, 2012 moment, Bryce Harper will instantly provide a spark for the Nationals, with his presence alone.

Judging from Saturday’s rehab game for Double-A Harrisburg at Bowie, Harper looks good to go.

Harrisburg manager Matt Lecroy spoke with Harper before and after each game to monitor the left knee and see how he felt. Despite an 0-for-3 performance on Saturday, Lecroy saw a lot of the things that Harper does on a regular basis that helps ignite his team.

“I thought he looked good,” Lecroy said. “He took some good swings. He ran the bases real aggressive, hard turns, scored on a ball that was hit off the wall. He dove for a ball in the outfield, tried to make a big play. He looks pretty good.”

Harper had the challenge of facing Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen Saturday, who was also on a major league rehab assignment. Chen struck Harper out on a called third strike, walked him and gave up a pop up to third.

Lecroy said it was a good test for a left-handed hitter to have to face a southpaw. The only other lefty in the lineup was the leadoff center fielder Brian Goodwin.

“I think it was good (to see) a lefty,” Lecroy said.” I don’t know if he saw any lefties in Potomac. He got to see a righty here (Thursday) and a lefty (Saturday). A guy who could control the ball. I am sure it was a challenge to him. It was good.”

Harper said the most important result of Saturday was to be physically ready to play today. And that night, he did.

“I feel pretty good right now,” Harper said Saturday night. “I felt pretty good the last couple of days. Nothing really feels anything like a setback. I am excited about where I am and hopefully we can get going.”

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