Bryce Harper injury: Nationals OF will need rehab assignment before returning

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The Nationals want Harper to test his injured knee out in the minor leagues before he rejoins the lineup.

The Washington Nationals plan to send injured outfielder Bryce Harper on a brief minor league rehab assignment before he returns to the team's lineup, according to comments manager Davey Johnson made to's Bill Ladson. The 20-year-old Harper will likely play for Class A Potomac to test out his injured left knee in a game situation, but the date for this has not been set.

Harper has been on the disabled list since June 1 due to knee bursitis stemming from a hard crash into the outfield wall when he chased down a fly ball in mid-May.

The Nationals will possibly have Harper perform baseball activities during the team's series against the Philadelphia Phillies early this upcoming week. If he is medically cleared for baseball drills after that, a rehab assignment is likely to begin not long after.

"He will have to go to Potomac, running around out there and seeing if the knee stays calm," Johnson said.

Harper was hitting .287 with a .973 OPS and 12 home runs over 44 games prior to the injury that has hampered his second major league season,

The Nationals have used numerous players in left field while Harper is out, including Roger Bernadina, Tyler Moore, Jeff Kobernus and Steve Lombardozzi. Those players have combined for a .653 OPS over the past two weeks --second worst in the majors at the position in that time frame.

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