Chien-Ming Wang making progress, throws off mound

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Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang threw off a mound Saturday in Viera, Florida for the first time since suffering a severe left hamstring strain in mid-March. And it went swimmingly, according to Amanda Comak of the Washington Times.

Wang is at least a week away from beginning a rehab assignment and will likely be asked to make three minor league starts, so he’s doubtful to join Washington’s starting rotation before the end of April. But an early-May debut seems doable.

Wang, 32, posted a decent 4.04 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 62 1/3 innings last season for the Nationals. Once healthy, he will presumably take over for No. 5 starter Ross Detwiler. While John Lannan sulks on.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.