Williams says Harper is available, Gonzalez is feeling fine (updated)

Bryce Harper is scheduled to be seen by a hand specialist today at Nationals Park, and the Nationals will wait until that examination is complete to determine if any further diagnostic measures, such as an MRI, are necessary.

Harper jammed his left thumb on a headfirst slide into third base on a triple in Friday night’s game against the Padres, and manager Matt Williams said early returns on the injury are promising.

“The early tests, anyway, are pretty good,” Williams said in his pregame meeting with the media Saturday morning. “X-rays are negative. There’s some swelling there, but we just want to make sure we knock it out.”

While Harper isn’t listed in today’s starting lineup, Williams said the outfielder is available.

“He’ll be available off the bench, for sure,” the manager said.

Given that the Nats are off Monday before beginning a five-game road trip to Houston and Philadelphia, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Williams give Harper today and Sunday off. Throw in the off-day Monday and that would give Harper three days to rest and get treatment on his thumb.

Left-hander Gio Gonzalez, whose left shoulder tightness caused him to be removed from Thursday’s game after pitching to two hitters in the sixth inning, is on target to make his next scheduled start, Williams said.

Monday’s scheduled off-day will provide an additional day of rest before his next scheduled start, Wednesday at Houston.

“He’s fine,” Williams said. “With the off-day coming, he’s got an extra day’s rest. So he’ll probably push his ‘pen back a day, which could be tomorrow. ... He felt good yesterday, took BP yesterday. Everything’s good.”

Update: WIlliams said Harper was seen by a hand specialist at the ballpark during Saturday’s game, and that Harper was going to undergo an MRI. Results will be available Sunday morning.

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