Bryce Harper begins rehab assignment, expects to move around Nationals’ outfield

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Out for the past two months with a torn thumb ligament, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper began a minor-league rehab assignment Monday night at Single-A.

Harper singled in his first at-bat and later walked before exiting the game after three innings as planned. He played left field, which is where he’s expected to spend most of his time upon rejoining the Nationals, although Harper could also see some action in center field if the team decides to keep using Ryan Zimmerman occasionally in left field rather than third base.

Zimmerman said Monday that he’d prefer to remain in left field but is willing to play third base if that’s where the Nationals need him. Similarly, Harper said after his first rehab game that he’d prefer to remain in one outfield spot full time but is willing to shift around on a game-by-game basis if the Nationals want it that way instead:

I want to get comfortable in one spot. I got in a little bit of trouble last year playing right field and getting hurt. So I think just trying to stay in one spot would be great. But with the outfield we have, I don’t think that’s going to happen. So being able to play left and play center and play right is something that I need down here.

July 1 is Harper’s expected return date for now, so the Nationals have another week to decide what their plan will be.

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The Mariners have made an offer to bring back Hisashi Iwakuma

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Hisashi Iwakuma tells the Japan Times that the Mariners have made him an offer to return.

Iwakuma became a free agent earlier this month after the Mariners, not surprisingly, declined his $10 million option for 2018. Iwakuma says that it’s “not a done deal,” but “hopefully I will be able to make a positive announcement soon.”

Iwakuma, who turns 37 early next season, made only six starts in 2017, posting a 4.35 ERA, 3.5 BB/9 and 4.6 SO/9 over 31 innings. He went on the disabled list in May and never returned to action, undergoing arthroscopic debridement surgery in September. He hopes to be recovered fully by spring training.