CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman suggests that Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper could return to the team on Monday, the final day of June. Harper will play seven innings in right field in tonight’s game, then will play a full nine in center on Friday. Following an off-day on Saturday, Harper will play in left field on Sunday. The Nationals will gauge his progress from there.
Harper has been on the disabled list since April 26 after suffering a torn UCL in his left thumb on a head-first slide. Up until the injury, Harper had slashed .289/.352/.422 with one home run and nine RBI in 91 plate appearances. Getting Harper back would be a boost for the Nationals, who enter Thursday’s action with a tenuous one-game first place lead in the NL East.
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.