Getty Images

Bryce Harper took batting practice yesterday


Bryce Harper has been on the disabled list since mid-August after he slipped on first base and hyperextended his left knee. At the time the injury looked horrific, with most people watching it assuming he shredded his knee. Thankfully, though it was diagnosed as a “significant bone bruise.” There was then and continues to be no timeline for his return, but it was definitely a far better than expected diagnosis.

Yesterday Harper took an encouraging step, taking batting practice for the first time since the injury. It was a full session against a BP pitcher and he even hit a couple of balls over the fence. He also ran some sprints in the outfield and he did some drills running to first base.

Still, neither Harper nor the Nats are making any promises or commitments about his return. Harper said he feels OK physically, but that he’s still not himself and that he has “a long ways to go,” but that he’ll “hopefully be back soon.”

The Nationals are playoff bound and have been playing pretty good baseball despite not having Harper in the lineup. They certainly don’t want to press their luck without him in the playoffs, however. Guess we’ll see in the next couple of weeks whether they’ll have to.

Shohei Ohtani no longer facing Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday at Yankee Stadium

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Shohei Ohtani has essentially become the Angels’ designated Sunday starting pitcher, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced Thursday morning that the 23-year-old two-way Japanese star will be skipped in the rotation this weekend at Yankee Stadium for “workload management” purposes.

Ohtani is fine to continue hitting, so there’s no sense of any physical ailment.

This decision will rob us — and the Japanese media — of a showdown between Ohtani and countrymate Masahiro Tanaka. And for that we are rather devastated, but you can understand the Angels’ concerns about overuse.

Ohtani has registered a 3.35 ERA, 1.066 WHIP, and 52/14 K/BB ratio through his first 40 1/3 innings (seven starts) as a major league pitcher and he’s slashing .308/.364/.582 with six home runs and 19 RBI in 26 games as a part-time DH.