Harper in positive mood as rehab continues, won't rush return

Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper met with the media prior to Thursday's series finale against the Phillies and appeared upbeat and in a positive mood as he recovers from left thumb surgery. Harper has been on the disabled list since April 26.

"It's in a good spot right now," Harper said of his thumb. "I think every day it's getting a little bit better. Just feeling better every day."

As to when the former Rookie of the Year will get back to playing baseball, Harper would not confirm manager Matt Williams' prognosis of an early July return.

"If I feel good, I am going to play; if I don't, then I am going to keep going," Harper said. "If it takes me until after the All-Star break or a month after the All-Star break, than it is going to take me that long. I am not going to rush back, I am not going to do anything stupid. I am just going to see how I feel and go from there."

Harper has been working out with his teammates during batting practice. He has been seen running the bases and getting leads. But he said that doesn't mean that he will be playing next week.

"I don't have that itching feeling: "Oh, I want to come back this quick,' " Harper said. "Of course, I want to play. It sucks having to sit inside the dugout and watch my team play without me out there. But nothing's been too bad.

"My body feels good. My leg feels good. I threw the other day. I haven't taken any grounders or anything like that. Haven't really done anything in the outfield. When I have time to do that, I'll get into that. I can't even close my hand with the glove yet. When I get ready to do that, then I will be ready do that. As of right now, I haven't really touched a ball in my glove at all.

"I am going to take as much time as I can to get this thing healed. That vibration of the bat will be a big test for me also. Like I said, if it takes me a lot of time to get back, then it's going to take me that much time."

Ryan Zimmerman is playing left field in his absence. Does he think he will play in left field when he gets back in July or beyond?

"My numbers are a lot better in center field," Harper said. "I feel good there. Of course, we have Denard Span, who is one of the best in center field, if not the best. So I will play anywhere they want me."

"Maybe I can get some throws behind the dish and give (Wilson) Ramos the time off," Harper joked. Harper was a catcher in college.

Harper has been impressed with the Nationals' recent offensive explosion: 39 runs in their past six games.

"Everybody is swinging it well, everybody is doing well," Harper said. "I am just excited to hopefully come back soon and ... get back."

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