Nationals 8, Astros 0

Bryce Harper woke up with tightness in his left calf so, after

he failed to get it loose, the Nationals scratched their top

prospect from Thursday’s game against Houston. Astros starter Livan

Hernandez left under much scarier terms.

Hernandez was hit in the lower right leg by a drive off Ryan

Zimmerman’s bat in the bottom of the third inning of Washington’s

8-0 win over the Houston Astros.

In the end, neither injury was considered serious.

”I’ve never felt it before,” Harper said of his calf injury.

”That was the weird thing. I felt it this morning and I was just

like, `I have no clue what’s going on right here.’ So I came in,

tried to ride the bike, tried to loosen it up. I didn’t feel it

when I swung at all.”

The 19-year-old did, however, feel it while moving around in the

outfield, so the Nationals decided to be cautious. Harper said he

hoped to get back as early as Friday or Saturday, but manager Davey

Johnson said the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft would likely

be held out for at least two days.

”I’m sure he’ll be bugging me,” Johnson said when told about

Harper’s timeline. ”But it’s a long spring. No hurry.”

Harper had played in four of the Nationals first five games and

was hitting .455 this spring in his bid to win the starting right

field job coming out of camp. He reiterated that he didn’t expect

his injury to be anything long term.

”Absolutely not,” he said. ”It’s spring training. I’m trying

to be as careful as I can. I’d rather miss two days, three days

down here than five (days) during the season.”

Hernandez was optimistic.

”I feel good now,” Hernandez said. ”Let’s see (how it is)

tomorrow. There’s no bruise. It’s not puffy, so it will be all

right. I think I had one more hitter, so it’s better to get out of

there.”

The 15-year veteran right-hander gave up two runs on three hits

and struck out two in 2 1-3 innings. One of those runs came on

Zimmerman’s homer to right field in the first inning.

Zimmerman, who had two hits and two RBIs, led off the third

inning and lined a changeup up the middle. The ball hit Hernandez

in his lower right leg, but he recovered in time to throw Zimmerman

out at first base. He was then replaced by Lucas Harrell.

Hernandez, a non-roster invitee, was more interested in how his

arm felt after Thursday’s outing.

”The more important thing is I feel better than the first time

(I pitched this spring),” he said. ”The breaking ball was better,

the changeup was breaking very good and the sinker was working very

good, too. I feel good today. It’s a good sign.”

Nationals starter Edwin Jackson had plenty to feel good about,

too. He threw four scoreless innings, giving up two hits and

striking out three.

Johnson called Jackson’s performance ”superb.”

The Nationals have been trying to get the right-hander to not

think about his mechanics and just throw the way he feels most

comfortable. Jackson certainly looked at ease Thursday. He just

wasn’t sure how he got there.

”Who knows,” Jackson said. ”When you’re going good, you don’t

really know what it is. Something just clicked and whatever

mechanics I had, I was able to just continue to repeat them and

throw pitches across the plate.”

Eury Perez, who started in place of Harper, had two hits and an

RBI. Mark Teahen drove in two runs. Four Nationals pitchers

combined to hold Houston to three hits.

NOTES: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche and outfielder

Michael Morse both got some at-bats in a minor league game

Thursday. LaRoche (ankle) is expected to rejoin the lineup

Saturday. Morse, who has been bothered by a strained lat muscle,

was feeling better Thursday. Johnson said Morse feels fine batting,

but is still having difficulty throwing the ball. Johnson didn’t

think the injury was serious . The Nationals first cuts of the

spring will likely take place Monday . Astros third baseman Jimmy

Paredes, recovering from a sore left wrist, made his spring debut

Thursday and struck out in his only at-bat. He is expected to start

Friday against Toronto … . Catcher Humberto Quintero was back in

camp Thursday after being examined in Houston by Dr. David Litner

and receiving an injection to treat what manager Brad Mills said

was a bulging disc in his lower back. He was expected to play catch

in Kissimmee Thursday and could catch a bullpen session on

Saturday. He won’t start swinging a bat until next week.