Harper is dealing with some inflammation in his left thumb after getting jammed by a pitch yesterday. While Harper says the thumb feels better today than it did after he left yesterday’s game against the Marlins, he will get a day off today and the plan was for him to not take batting practice in an effort to avoid further soreness.
“Feels fine,” Harper said. “I thought it was going to be a lot worse when I woke up this morning. I thought it was better this morning. If I was in the lineup today, I could play.
“I’ll get back in there Friday, or maybe even tomorrow. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. It feels fine right now, so that’s the good thing. Just trying to get some more treatment on it.”
Harper initially jammed the thumb Friday against the Tigers. He got Saturday’s game off and then returned to the lineup. Since coming back, Harper is 8-for-8 with a walk.
The Nats could choose to play things safe and give Harper the remaining three spring games off in an effort to get ready for opening day, but that would mean Harper would go five days without seeing live pitching, something manager Davey Johnson said he would rather avoid going into the regular season.
Harper has already gotten 67 spring plate appearances, and he’s batting .476 this spring, so he doesn’t need the at-bats, but he said he would prefer to get a few more swings in a game before opening day comes. If he rests again tomorrow, Harper could play a few innings in Friday’s exhibition against the Yankees as a tune-up.
“Just to be able to get the reps is huge, definitely, but playing Friday would probably be good and then getting Saturday, Sunday (off) and then opening day,” Harper said. “If I can get BP in there and do the side things, it’s probably not going to bother me very much.”
Johnson didn’t seem to be overly concerned about Harper’s health yesterday, and he wasn’t today, either.
“You get jammed, you got a little inflammation in there,” Johnson said. “Let it calm down. He’s going to have two days off (after Friday’s exhibition) before the start of the season. I’m sure his heart will be pumping and he’ll get plenty of stuff in there to help heal it.”
For the time being, Harper realizes that he’ll likely have to deal with a little soreness whenever he gets jammed. He doesn’t see the thumb being something that will linger deep into the season, however, and isn’t concerned about it affecting him long-term.
“I don’t see it like that. I really don’t,” Harper said. “It just doesn’t seem to be that bad to that point. I hope it doesn’t get to that point. I don’t see it getting to that point at all. ...
“If I get jammed, of course it’s going to hurt. I think whenever you get jammed it hurts. Yesterday I got jammed a little bit, hurt pretty bad, and then woke up this morning and it was fine. It’s just a matter of playing through it. I don’t think it’s going to hold me down or anything. I have a pretty high pain tolerance. It’s not going to hold me down.”
Here are the lineups for the home half of today’s split-squad game:
For the Nats
CF Denard Span
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
LF Tyler Moore
P Ross Detwiler
For the Braves
SS Andrelton Simmons
CF Reed Johnson
1B Chris Johnson
3B Juan Francisco
LF Evan Gattis
2B Ramiro Pena
RF Jordan Schafer
P Eric O’Flaherty