Haren heading to DL (Harper puts on a show in batting practice)

Turns out the Nationals won't wait until after Dan Haren's side session before deciding what to do with the veteran right-hander.

Haren will be heading to the disabled list, a team source confirmed this afternoon. The ailment has not yet been specified.

Haren has gone 4-9 this season and has a major league-worst 6.15 ERA. He went just 3 1/3 innings yesterday against the Rockies, allowing six runs on seven hits, and left the field to a chorus of boos from Nats fans.

The Nats have gone 0-8 in Haren's last eight starts. He hasn't complained about any physical issues, and while he admitted after yesterday's start that he's dealing with some "aches and pains," he didn't seem to think it was severe enough to knock him to the DL.

"Nothing I haven't pitched through in the past," Haren said yesterday. "Physically, I'm OK."

Still, the Nats are concerned about Haren's health, feeling that if he's battling some discomfort somewhere, it could be throwing off his mechanics, leading to his cutter lacking its proper movement and hanging up in the middle of the plate.

"In the past, I know last year he had a little problem with his hip and his back, and when you have a problem somewhere else, sometimes it transfers to another part of your body," pitching coach Steve McCatty said. "If you're hurting somewhere else or something's throwing you off, sometimes it can take an effect on your elbow, shoulder and so we've just got to make sure he feels good."

Haren landed on the disabled list for the first time in his career last season due to a back injury, and he's pitched through a hip issue the last few seasons. His health was one of the main reasons why some teams backed off from pursuing Haren this offseason, and a trade that would have sent him from the Angels to the Cubs fell apart after the Cubs saw something they didn't like on Haren's medicals.

The Nationals felt good enough with Haren physically that they signed him to a one-year, $13 million deal this winter. He's been largely ineffective so far this season, and now is back on the DL, where he'll have time to get healthy and try and get his mechanical issues fixed.

"This guy has pitched well, I mean, very, very good throughout his career," McCatty said. "It's one of those things right now where when you start pressing yourself. Maybe the tinkering is because he's trying to do so well, that now every pitch it's like (you're) changing something. You've just got to stay the course. You've got to do what you did to get you to this point. And he's been a damn good pitcher. It's just fighting through it.

"It's not easy for him, it's not easy for me, any of us. I wish there was something where I could say, 'Oh! There it is! That's what it is.' But the one thing that I do notice ... when he keeps that good arm slot (and) the finish, where it's down through the release instead of side-to-side, the pitches are better pitches. ... It shows you that when Jupiter's aligned with Mars and it's going well, he has the stuff to get people out and strike them out."

Ross Ohlendorf is the top candidate to replace Haren in the Nationals' rotation. Haren's next turn is scheduled to fall on Friday against the Mets.

Nationals radio broadcaster Charlie Slowes was the first to report Haren would land on the DL.

Bryce Harper took batting practice on the field at Nats Park today, the first time that he's hit on the field since landing on the DL with left-knee bursitis. And Harper put on quite a show.

With thousands of fans at Nats Park early today because of the Bryce Harper Bobblehead giveaway, Harper had quite a large crowd in the outfield bleachers watching his every move. He didn't disappoint, spraying line drives all over the field, including two long drives that came down in the second deck in right field.

It looked like the same old Harper, all right.

One of those two second-deck shots came on Harper's final swing of BP, and was greeted with a huge ovation from the fans in attendance. I can't say I've ever seen a guy get such a loud round of applause for a batting practice performance before.

The plan for Harper is still a little unclear; the Nats had planned on him starting a rehab assignment at high Single-A Potomac on Tuesday, but Harper said he preferred to wait another day or two before getting back on the field. Based on what we saw today, Harper doesn't look like he's lost too much while sitting out nearly the last month.

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