Jul 1, 2013, 10:18 PM EDT
|Photo by USA Today|
After more than a month of rehab from left knee bursitis, including four games with minor league affiliates, Bryce Harper is finally back starting in left field and hitting third in the Nationals lineup.
Harper will be wearing padding on his left knee for precautionary reasons, but feels ready to jump right in and give the Nats whatever boost he can as they commence the season’s second half.
“It’s tough to be out, but I’m glad that I’m back and I’m ready to go,” Harper said. “I feel strong enough to be out there and play full-force and I’m ready to get going.”
Manager Davey Johnson said it felt like longer than just five or so weeks since Harper has been out.
“I saw him around two o’clock and I went in there and said ‘is that really you, are you okay, you ready to go?’ He shook my hand and said ‘yea, I’m ready.’ It seemed like I hadn’t seen him in half a year.”
With Harper back, Johnson said he doesn’t plan on bringing him along slowly or asking him to change anything about his approach. Johnson is looking for the same old Harper.
“I think part of it is his bat, but just the energy he brings. He takes a lot of the focus and he’s a competitor,” Johnson said.
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