Jun 5, 2014, 2:22 PM EDT
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper continues to work through the slow rehab process after his April 29 surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb, still waiting for the day he can resume baseball activities.
The two-time All-Star gave an update on his progress Thursday, saying he does not have a timetable to return quite yet.
“I’m not going to rush back. I’m not going to do anything stupid. I’m just going to see how I feel and go from there,” he said.
“I’m not even going to say anything about [a return date]. You know, people are saying first of July or end of June. Me and Dr. [Thomas] Graham have what we want to do and if that’s 20 days after that or 20 days before that—it’s something if I feel good, I’m going to play. If I don’t, I’m going to keep going. If it takes me until after the All-Star Break or a month after the All-Star Break, then it’s going to take me that long.”
Harper is not ready to take swings or field groundballs and is not sure exactly when he will receive clearance to do so from the Nats’ training staff. Harper has played catch before games in recent weeks, mainly throwing the ball with a trainer catching for him.
For now Harper is lifting weights and running to stay in shape while he waits patiently for the next step in his rehab.
“My body feels good. My legs feel good. I threw the other day. I haven’t taken any grounders or anything like that. I haven’t done anything in the outfield. But when I have time to do that, I’ll get into that. But I can’t even close my hand with a ball with the glove yet, so when I get ready to do that, I’ll be ready to do that. But as of right now, I haven’t even touched a ball in my glove at all.”
As the Nationals saw with Ryan Zimmerman’s recent recovery from a thumb injury – his was fractured – swinging a bat is one of the final steps in the recovery process.
“My top hand is huge in my swing, so I’m just going to take as much time as I can to get the same feel,” Harper said.
“That vibration of the bat is going to be a big test for me also. Like I said, if it takes a lot of time to get back, then it’s going to take me that much time. And I think I’m just going to take as much time as I can to be where I need to be, to be 100 percent or close to 100 percent when I come back so I can help this team work.”
Harper last played on April 25 when he tore his UCL sliding into third base in a game against the Padres. Manager Matt Williams said the team is eyeing a July 1 return for the outfielder, but nothing is definitive until he swings a bat. Williams confirmed on Thursday Harper will likely go back to left field once he returns, with Zimmerman moving to third base.
“I’m not sure,” Harper said when asked where he will play. “Zim’s pretty good in left right now and Rendon is a hell of a third baseman and Espinosa, he’s a hell of second baseman…So I really have no idea what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it.
“I think everybody knows I love center field. That’s where I like to be. My numbers are a lot better in center field. I feel good there. But of course we have Denard Span, who’s one of the best center fielders in the game, if not the best. So I’ll play anywhere they want me.”
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