Bryce Harper returns to the Nationals’ starting lineup

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There was some thought last week that Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper may have to be shut down for the rest of the season due to lingering discomfort in his left hip. But an MRI taken Sunday showed only inflammation and Harper is back in the starting lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Mets.

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes that Harper put on a show in batting practice on Tuesday afternoon, spraying line drives and launching a few balls into the upper deck at Citi Field in New York. The 20-year-old phenom has also been able to take normal outfield practice without any major issues and believes he can play through the pain that remains down the stretch.

The Nationals have won four straight games but are still 6 1/2 games back of a Wild Card spot.

Harper is hitting .273/.377/.504 with 19 home runs and 49 RBI in 102 games played this season.

Report: Orioles interested in Lance Lynn

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The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.

Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.

Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.