Bryce Harper back in Monday’s lineup after sitting out with sore knee

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Bryce Harper sat out Saturday and Sunday due to lingering soreness in his left knee caused by his collision with the right field fence at Dodger Stadium last Monday, but Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that he’s back in the starting lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Giants.

Harper was all banged up after the collision, as he needed stitches in his chin and dealt with nausea, as well as soreness in his knee, shoulder, and rib cage. However, the 20-year-old outfielder was able to return to action as a pinch-hitter last Wednesday. He was in the lineup for back-to-back days on Thursday and Friday before sitting out the rest of the weekend.

Harper is batting .297/.393/.617 with 11 home runs, 22 RBI and a 1.011 OPS in 39 games this season. The second-place Nationals are hoping he’s back in the lineup to stay.

Mets sign Matt Purke to minors deal

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The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.

Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.

While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.