That sound you just heard was everyone in Washington, D.C. breathing a huge sigh of relief. Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo says he’s “optimistic” superstar outfielder Bryce Harper will be back in time for the postseason, according to MLB Network Radio.
— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) September 15, 2017
Here’s Rizzo’s full quote:
“Harp has been doing some baseball activities. He is progressing at a cautious pace. We are optimistic that he will be here for playoff baseball and we’re moving towards those ends. He really lengthens the lineup and is an impact guy in the middle that everybody that we play has to account for. He makes it easier for everybody around him.”
That should come as tremendous news for Nationals fans for all the reasons Rizzo outlined above. After a down year in 2016, the 24-year-old Harper has rebounded to hit .326/.419/.614, with 29 home runs, over 472 plate appearances. Had he not gotten injured, Harper may have been in the thick of the National League MVP race.
Harper has been recovering after an ugly knee injury during an Aug. 12 game. While trying to beat out an infield hit, Harper slipped on first base, landing awkwardly on his left leg. He was initially diagnosed with a “significant” bone bruise. That was considered a positive result considering how gruesome the injury looked.
A few weeks later, things appeared less rosy. On Aug. 30, manager Dusty Baker said Harper was “a long ways from running,” casting doubt on whether he might be able to rehab in time to join the club in October.
Harper has apparently made a ton of progress in the past few weeks, and it now appears the postseason is possible. The club will be looking to advance past the National League Division Series for the first time in franchise history, and having Harper healthy and effective would be a huge boost toward getting them there.
There’s still plenty of work to be done, but this is a good sign for Harper, the team and fans hoping the Nationals can finally win a playoff series.
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