Bryce Harper takes next step in recovery from knee injury
WASHINGTON (AP) Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper took swings during batting practice Sunday for the first time since hyperextending his left knee on Aug. 12.
Harper previously had taken cuts in the batting cage, but was on the field before the Nationals’ series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers. His session included several shots deep into the stands at Nationals Park.
”Just trying to get out there and trying put the bat on the ball and just try to be as fluid as I can and try to get my swing back,” said the 2015 NL MVP, who is second in the NL with a .326 batting average.
The NL East champions open the NLDS on Oct. 6.
”I hope so. That’s definitely in my head,” Harper said of a return goal. ”That’s what I want to do. That’s where I want to be. But it takes time.”
Harper remains second on Washington with 29 home runs this season despite missing 34 games.
He was injured at home against the Giants when he awkwardly landed on the slick first base bag during a game that was delayed by rain. Washington placed the All-Star on the disabled list the following day.
”It just happened. It’s something I can’t control,” Harper said. ”It definitely was a freak accident. We put it behind us as quick as possible and tried to get everything going as quick as we could. And then it was all behind me. I didn’t really worry about it much.”
The right fielder said he tested the knee Sunday running to first base. ”Felt fine. Just super-easy. Just kind of jogging to first and trying to get the feel for it again. Running to first feels a lot more comfortable than running on the track. ”
Harper said timing in the batter’s box could be a process. If his return matches the start of the postseason, he’ll have to adjust on the fly.
”It’s definitely going to be a tough thing,” Harper said. ”If we play Chicago, I might be facing Jon Lester for my first at-bat in six weeks. That’s a tough task. It’s going to take some time. Hopefully, I can get back and get going a little sooner than later.”
Harper was succinct with his biggest physical test remaining.
”Playing in a baseball game. That’s going to be the biggest thing, getting in there and playing the game and feeling good,” he said. ”As long as I’m healthy, that’s all I want.”
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