Not that he didn't probably prove it during his sprint around the bases yesterday to score the winning run at Fenway Park, but if you needed any confirmation of Bryce Harper's back being A-OK, here it is: He's back in the Nationals' starting lineup tonight in Toronto.
Harper will bat second and man right field, with Roger Bernadina back in center field for the second straight day. Davey Johnson said he wants to get Bernadina some more playing time, certainly after he delivered the game-winning double yesterday in Boston. The highly athletic outfielder does have six hits over his last 11 at-bats and has reached base 10 times in his last 16 plate appearances.
Edwin Jackson gets the assignment for the Nationals, facing a Blue Jays lineup that features a whole lotta thunder out of the Nos. 3 and 4 holes; Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion have each clubbed 17 homers already this season...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Where: Rogers Centre
Gametime: 7:07 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 178
LF Steve Lombardozzi
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
DH Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Roger Bernadina
C Jesus Flores
(RHP Edwin Jackson)
BLUE JAYS (31-29)
3B Brett Lawrie
CF Colby Rasmus
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
2B Kelly Johnson
SS Yunel Escobar
1B David Cooper
C J.P. Arencibia
LF Rajai Davis
(RHP Brandon Morrow)
Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers.
Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.
Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS.
With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years.
Related: Sorry D.C. sports fans, Bryce Harper is a Dallas Cowboys fan
The Nationals aren't certain to have ace Max Scherzer ready to pitch for Opening Day. Scherzer, 32, was unable to compete in the World Baseball Classic this summer due to a stress fracture in his right ring finger.
When he spoke to the media today at the first bullpen session of spring training, he said that the fracture has healed but the symptoms continue.
Scherzer also said he'd just started throwing again this week. Manager Dusty Baker confimed that the Nationals don't know whether Scherzer will be ready to start the season.
Any time a team's star pitcher suffers an unusual hand injury, it's cause for concern for the club and fans.
Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award last season and posted a 20-7 record as a starter. He also led the MLB with 284 strikeouts.
Scherzer is an especially vital part of the Nationals rotation considering the injury history of Stephen Strasburg, who landed on the DL twice last season, once with soreness in the elbow that needed Tommy John surgery in 2010.
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