ATLANTA -- We’re still waiting for the Nationals’ official lineup, but both Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth are set to take batting practice, and barring any setbacks, they’ll be in the Nats’ starting nine.
Harper suffered a nasty bruise on his left side after colliding with the right field wall Tuesday and he needed to leave last night’s game in the sixth inning after a check-swing aggravated the injury. Werth has missed the last two games with a sore left ankle and hamstring cramps.
Here’s the Nationals’ pre-batting practice lineup:
CF Denard Span
2B Steve Lombardozzi
LF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam LaRoche
3B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
P Dan Haren
Update: The Nats’ lineup is now official. Harper and Werth both made it through batting practice just fine, spraying line drive all over Turner Field, and will play tonight.
An X-ray on Harper’s ribs came back negative, and manager Davey Johnson said that Harper won’t need an MRI or any further tests on his side. The diagnosis remains a badly bruised side, and the team is confident that the oblique isn’t an issue.
“They took the X-rays to be precautionary,” Johnson said. “If he’d have broken some ribs, it would’ve been much more painful. But they did it anyway. A real bad bruise. Hopefully he’s young, real strong. He didn’t want to come out (last night) when I took him out. I had to fight him on that. So I wasn’t going to have that same battle today when he said he was good to go. I said, ‘I’ll give you Monday off.’ “
The Nationals have a scheduled off-day Monday, so Johnson’s comment was in jest.
Harper said the bruised side won’t be an issue in the field, but it could affect him at the plate. The biggest issue is check-swings, in which Harper gets his momentum toward the ball and then needs to pull back.
“He said he wanted to go, and I told him, ‘Well, don’t check your swing,’ ” Johnson said. “He has no broken ribs or anything from the crash into the wall, so we need him in the lineup.”
Harper has a plan to avoid any further injury.
“Maybe I shouldn’t run into walls,” he joked.
Werth said that his ankle/hamstring have improved and he was actually available to pinch-hit in last night’s 2-0 Nats win, although that wasn’t needed.
The ankle is still pretty stiff, Werth said, but he’ll tough it out tonight.
If Harper and Werth both make it through tonight’s game without any setbacks, the Nats could have their full lineup available tomorrow when they open a three-game series in Pittsburgh. Ryan Zimmerman will join the team tomorrow after spending the last two weeks on the DL with a left hamstring strain, giving Johnson a chance to put his opening day lineup back into effect.
“It’s going to be great,” Johnson said. “Even when Zim was here, he was nursing that hamstring for a couple, two to three weeks, and it was hard for him to land. So the word I got was he was running, played six innings and felt great. He was going to work out today and come up here. It’ll be great having him back. I really liked our lineup at the start of the year and I like the potential of it. The good thing is, it’s given some of the guys on the bench time to play. But it’s going to be sweet to have him back in the lineup.
“Just having (Zimmerman) around, he’s a great player and a great leader. Maybe the pitchers will have a little more confidence to throw the ball over, and it’ll have an overall effect.”