BALTIMORE - Bryce Harper has missed the Nationals' last two games with bursitis in his left knee and will sit out at least these next two games against the Orioles, as well.
But Harper's time out of the Nats' lineup might not end there.
Manager Davey Johnson said today that Harper isn't progressing as quickly as the Nats might have hoped, leaving his status for this weekend's series in Atlanta in question.
"It's kind of a tough thing - inflammation, bursa sac, whatever you want to call it - hopefully if he just stays off it, (it will improve)," Johnson said. "He's been trying to go down in the cages and hit and take BP. Hopefully maybe two more days. Hopefully he'll be able to come back and play. Hopefully."
Asked whether Friday's series opener against the Braves is a possibility, Johnson implied the odds aren't good.
"I don't have a lot of high hopes, but I'm hopeful," Johnson said.
Harper initially injured the knee when colliding with the right field wall in Los Angeles over two weeks ago. He has already tried to return to the lineup twice, only to later need to head back to the bench when his knee started acting up.
The 20-year-old outfielder aggravated the knee most recently during a game against the Phillies on Sunday, when he slid head-first into both second and third base. He then fouled a ball off the knee later in the game and needed to be removed for a pinch-runner in the seventh inning.
Harper leads the Nats in batting average (.287), on-base percentage (.386) and slugging percentage (.587), so Johnson would love to have Harper back in the lineup as quickly as possible. But the last thing the Nats want is Harper aggravating the knee again, causing more swelling and fluid to build up in the knee and forcing him to miss even more time.
"We're just trying to let some of the swelling go down and some of the inflammation," Johnson said. "And however long that takes is how long it takes."