Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth back in Thursday’s lineup

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The Nationals are close to full strength for tonight’s series finale against the NL East-leading Braves.

According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth are back in the starting lineup. Harper will bat third while Werth will hit cleanup against right-hander Kris Medlen.

Harper left last night’s game in the sixth inning after he aggravated a bruise on his left side on a check-swing. He originally suffered the injury Tuesday night when he crashed into the outfield fence while trying to catch a home run off the bat of Tim Hudson. However, he was cleared to return after he made it through batting practice this afternoon without incident.

Werth has missed the last two games after he fouled a ball off his left ankle on Monday. He also has been dealing with some hamstring tightness. While he told Zuckerman prior to batting practice that the ankle still feels “pretty stiff,” he’s going to give it a go.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.