Harper staying with Harrisburg, Ramos close to returning, Taylor Jordan notes

NEW YORK - Speaking following yesterday's game, Davey Johnson left the door open to the possibility that Bryce Harper would cut short his rehab assignment by a few days and join the Nationals in New York this weekend.

That won't be happening. Harper is remaining with Double-A Harrisburg for the time being.

Harper will get a day off today, but he'll still hit indoors and do some throwing. He'll be back in the lineup tomorrow against Bowie, and then if all goes well, could be ready to return to the Nats lineup Monday when they open a series against the Brewers.

Harper has played three games on his rehab assignment, going 4-for-8 with a double, a triple, a home run, three RBIs, two walks and four runs scored. Yesterday, he scored from first base on an extra-base hit and tripled, showing that the left knee bursitis that he's been battling for the last six weeks is improving.

"He's been running all over the place," Johnson said. "Heck, he's 20 years old. And the punishment he's been given, he's been diving back into bags, been having to hustle I think first-to-third, triple. He's done just about everything and has been going full-speed.

"There's been no noticeable swelling in that area. I was only concerned the first couple days, because if it was gonna act up, it was gonna act up then. And obviously his timing is pretty good."

Despite all that, the Nats are inclined to wait another few days before bringing Harper back. Harper still has yet to play a full nine innings on his rehab stint, and he had said last week that he hoped to play in 5-6 rehab games before returning.

"If that's what he felt like he needed and there's been no repercussions with the knee, there's no sense in speeding that up," Johnson said. "We always want to do what's best for the player, number one, and I think that's the plan he came up with and we're all comfortable with."

Harper is close to rejoining the Nats, and so is catcher Wilson Ramos, who has been sidelined for nearly the last six weeks with a strained left hamstring. Ramos played three innings and got two at-bats for the Gulf Coast League Nationals today, Johnson reported. Ramos will play five innings with the GCL Nats tomorrow and then could join a local affiliate on Sunday to ramp up his rehab assignment.

Asked how long that rehab assignment will need to be before Ramos is ready to return, Johnson held out his hand with his thumb and index finger maybe an inch apart, indicating Ramos is close.

"At the end of this week, I think he'll be close to 50 days of rehab," Johnson said. "So I think he should be pretty good. I know he's doing a lot of running drills, catching bullpens. Every report I get, he feels great. He just needs to get some at-bats and he should be good to go."

Meanwhile, Johnson officially named Taylor Jordan the starter for tomorrow's game against the Mets. And while Johnson has yet to see the 24-year-old right-hander pitch with his own eyes, he's heard good things and plans on giving Jordan at least a couple starts at the big league level to show what he can do before deciding how to fill the fifth spot in the Nats rotation long-term.

"I've just gotten good reports," Johnson said. "(Pitching coach Steve) McCatty's seen him throw, they like his stuff, and what he's done this year is pretty impressive. I imagine for sure he'll get at least a couple, two or three starts.

"We did the same thing with (Nathan Karns). Give him some experience up here, and that's what it's all about. And then grade him out."

Jordan will become the 10th pitcher drafted and developed by the Nats to start a game for them.

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