Good news, people: Bryce Harper is not fragile.
According to beat writer Amanda Comak of the Washington Times, the 19-year-old outfielder is back in the Nationals’ starting lineup on Sunday afternoon against the Braves despite departing the first half of Saturday’s doubleheader because of an ankle bruise that he suffered on a first-inning foul tip.
It looked like a painful injury, but he singled as a pinch-hitter in Game 2 on Saturday night and was only displaying a slight limp as he ran to first base.
Harper is hitting .270/.341/.442 with eight home runs, 12 stolen bases, 26 RBI and 47 runs scored through the first 73 games of his major league career. He will bat second in Sunday’s series-finale with Atlanta.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.