Bryce Harper says his surgically-repaired knee “feels great”

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Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper underwent surgery in October to debride and repair the bursa sac in his left knee, but he told Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com at NatsFest today that it “feels great” and he began sprinting about three weeks ago.

Harper was banged up following collisions with the outfield wall in April and May last year, but he admitted today that he was actually hurting even earlier. While he played through the pain for most of the season, he said his big takeaway from 2013 is that he’ll “probably never do that again.” The young phenom won’t say for sure if he’ll be 100 percent for the start of spring training, but there should still be plenty of time for him to get ready for the season even if the Nationals ease him into things.

Harper, 21, hit .274/.368/.486 with 20 home runs, 58 RBI, and 11 stolen bases in 118 games last season.

Joe Maddon: “I have a defensive foot fetish.”

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The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.

Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.

Well then.

The Nationals have scored 62 runs during four Joe Ross starts

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If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.

Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.

Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.

Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.