With two successful rehab games under his belt, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is set to take the next step in his assignment. The young phenom will join the Nats' Double-A club in Harrisburg on Thursday, where he is expected to play a full game in the outfield for the club, reports James Wagner of the Washington Post.
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Harper, 20, started games for Class A+ Potomac on Tuesday and Wednesday, but was pulled from both contests after just a few innings on the field. He recorded two hits -- a double and a home run -- in five plate appearances over eight innings for Potomac, and will look to do more of the same with Harrisburg on Thursday.
Harper, who has been sidelined since May 26 with bursitis (i.e. inflammation of the bursa sac) in his left knee, is scheduled to get a day of rest on Friday then play another full game for Harrisburg on Saturday. If all goes according to plan, Harper would then get another day off on Sunday before returning to the Nationals for their home series opener against the Brewers on Monday.
The 2012 NL Rookie of the Year's return to the nation's capital couldn't come any sooner for the Nats. The club has struggled mightily at the plate this season, collectively hitting just .235/.293/.378 on the year. Their .670 OPS and 3.55 runs per game on offense are second only to the woeful Miami Marlins in the National League. Harper was batting .287/.386/.587 with 12 home runs in 178 plate appearances before his knee injury took him out, so his return to the lineup should be a huge boost for the Nats.