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Harper may not be ready for opener

Mar 22, 2011, 2:18 PM EDT

VIERA, Fla. — Bryce Harper suffered what the Nationals are terming a “medium sprain” of his left ankle yesterday, an injury that’s not considered serious but could prevent the top prospect from playing in Class A Hagerstown’s April 7 season opener.

Mike Rizzo said this morning it’s too soon to know a timetable for Harper’s return, but compared Harper’s sprain to the one suffered by Corey Brown (who was injured March 1 and had not appeared in another game when he was sent to minor-league camp 2 1/2 weeks later).

Meanwhile, Rizzo said the three-way competition between Nyjer Morgan, Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina for the starting center fielder’s job remains wide-open and probably won’t be decided until the final days of camp.

Rizzo did say it will be difficult to keep all three players on the Opening Day roster, suggesting that either Morgan or Bernadina (or perhaps both) will be sent to Class AAA Syracuse.

Read my full story with all of Rizzo’s quotes on CSNwashington.com.

  1. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 22, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    I'm thinking this kid is probably a fast healer and may make short work of his recovery time.Here's hoping. Unfortunately, work will be in my way this afternoon, but I look forward to joining in after todays game.

  2. cevans - Mar 22, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    But it's the most advanced medium sprained ankle in a generation. Film at 5, 6, and 11.In other news, WWIII has started …

  3. Steve M. - Mar 22, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    Mark Zuckerman said…Meanwhile, Rizzo said the three-way competition for the starting center fielder's job between Nyjer Morgan, Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina remains wide-open entering the final week of spring training."I like the competition," the GM said. "I think we've got capable candidates out there, and I'm going to be comfortable with whoever we choose out there. … They all bring a different skill-set to the position. But I do think it's still an open competition."A decision doesn't have to be made until the final day of camp, but Rizzo suggested it's unlikely all three players will make the Opening Day roster.That is big news the statement that "Rizzo suggested it's unlikely all three players will make the Opening Day roster."Ankiel will most likely be on the roster but to think that Bernadina doesn't make it is mind boggling and with the diminished playing time it looks like Bernie is the odd man out.The issue I see with Bernadina is that he bulked up in the off-season to be a power guy in the corner OF and if he was being slated as a CF then I would think he would have trained more to stay lean and mean and play his speed game.To think Bernadina would lose his job to Nyjer Morgan is a mistake in my mind but as Mark pointed out, Morgan has 10 hits in his last 31 at-bats and has posted a .447 on-base percentage during that span and that gives them justification.

  4. JD - Mar 22, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    Steve M. I don't read it that way. To me Morgan was penciled in as the starting CF and today's statement shows that Rizzo is backing away from that which is clearly bad news for Morgan. I don't think that the small sample size (31 at bats) means anything but the fact that he still can't read pitchers moves; is not improving in that regard and the fact that he is playing badly in the field and that his arm is never getting stronger may have finally swayed Rizzo to move on from Nyjer.

  5. Mark'd - Mar 22, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    JD – I hope you are right. Bernadina can add more than Nyjer. This also allows Rizzo to keep Nix or Stairs.

  6. A DC Wonk - Mar 22, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    The only problem with all this (Bernadina or Ankiel replacing Morgan) of course, is that while we gain a better center fielder, we still don't have a leadoff batter.

  7. JD - Mar 22, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    A DC WONK, I think you stick Bernadina at leadoff; hope he improves his OBP and deal with it in the off season if it doesn't work; it's not like you are replacing a superstar anyway; you may just get addition by subtraction.

  8. Steve M. - Mar 22, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    JD – Thanks for your thoughts and insight as you have made some valid points and I personally hope that you are correct that Bernie is the new CF. I am sure for Bernie and Nyjer, Nix and Stairs, AGonz and Cora, and Ballester, Stammen and Gaudin, these are going to be nervous times for the next 8 days.

  9. Wally - Mar 22, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    The roster construction is really at crunch time. Here are my guesses/comments at some of the last points.-Ankiel + Stairs is one signing too many. I know he has supporters here, but I do not believe that Ankiel is an everyday player, and he is redundant with either Stairs or Bernie. The reason that I say one signing too many is I think Ankiel's contract looks like the reason that they'll keep both on the roster, and I think that is a mistake.-Coffey looks like a bad signing too, for the same reason. They'll keep him because of the contract, but probably shouldn't.-Because of Coffey, there is a real chance that Storen goes to the minors because of the options situation, which I think may be a problem only if they really told him to throw almost all fastballs. If they did (which is essentially saying 'don't worry about performance, just work on these things and we'll take care of you'), and then they demote him for poor performance, that has a bad feel to it, and could result in a loss of player trust in management.-I don't understand why Gaudin doesn't get more love around here. He is only 28, and one of the harder throwers on the staff (not exactly a hard thrower, but you know what I mean). Plus, what more could he have done this spring?-I don't see how they give back Broderick either, although I find it hard to see how both Broderick and Gaudin make the pen, and it is a shame that they can't work out a deal with STL so that they can send Broderick down to AAA to continue as a starter.-I think that Bernie or Nix, AGon, Stammen and maybe Lannan could get traded before the team breaks camp.-Lastly, is it just me, or do some of these rules regarding options and service time need to get reworked in the next collective bargaining agreement so that teams can actually bring their best 25 players north each year? Seems like we the fans are the ones losing out.

  10. N. Cognito - Mar 22, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    No big deal. Hagerstown opens on the road with 4 games each in Rome, Ga and Lexington, KY.

  11. N. Cognito - Mar 22, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    Wally said… "Lastly, is it just me, or do some of these rules regarding options and service time need to get reworked in the next collective bargaining agreement so that teams can actually bring their best 25 players north each year? Seems like we the fans are the ones losing out."A rule change just so the Nats can hoard marginal players?

  12. PAY TO PLAY - Mar 22, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    Wally said…Because of Coffey, there is a real chance that Storen goes to the minors because of the options situation, which I think may be a problem only if they really told him to throw almost all fastballs. If they did (which is essentially saying 'don't worry about performance, just work on these things and we'll take care of you'), and then they demote him for poor performance, that has a bad feel to it, and could result in a loss of player trust in management.Let's not start to fantasize here about Storen's inability to get outs. He was told to work on his fastball and all the talk about him throwing ALMOST ALL fastballs was an excuse, possibly, for 1 of his terrible outings. He threw plenty of sliders and in his last game and FP called it perfectly, a hanging slider that got crushed to the gap for a 2 run double.Storen may be better than Coffey but this is a game sometimes of who has options. Personally, I have been impressed by Gaudin, Kimball, Broderick, Ballester, Slaten, and Burnett out of the bullpen. Kimball is already out of the picture which leaves 5 guys competing for 3 to 4 spots as Henry Rodriguez, Coffey and Clippard should grab 3 of the spots.

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