As expected, the Nationals have activated Bryce Harper from the disabled list for tonight’s game against the Rockies after the outfielder missed two months with a torn ligament in his left thumb that required surgery.
Harper finished up his minor-league rehab assignment by smacking three homers in a Double-A game and went 9-for-14 (.643) with four homers on the rehab stint overall.
Harper will resume starting every day in left field, where Ryan Zimmerman has been playing since returning from the disabled list himself in early June. Zimmerman has played well there defensively considering he was a career-long third baseman and spoke last week about actually preferring to remain in the outfield because of his chronic shoulder problems, but he hit just .198 in 25 games as a left fielder and the Nationals have said all along that he’ll move back to the infield once Harper is ready.
There could be some drama and tough decisions on the horizon if Zimmerman’s throwing issues or shoulder problems resurface, but for now the Nationals are at full strength with a 43-38 record and half the season remaining.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.