Bryce Harper returns to lineup with swelling in left thumb


(Julio Cortez / AP)

Bryce Harper returned to the Nationals’ lineup today after Manager Davey Johnson scratched him yesterday with swelling in his left thumb. Harper still felt some soreness in his hand, which he jammed while lining a single into right field Friday, but insisted it would not affect him.

“I’m going to play,” Harper said. “So it’s all good.”

Harper made one concession: He wore a rubber pad around his thumb, the same one teammate Jayson Werth wears, that absorbs the energy of the ball hitting the bat. Harper didn’t like it because he prefers to hold the bat deep in his hands.

“It doesn’t feel comfortable to me,” Harper said. “If it keeps from getting jammed, maybe I’ll get more hits.”

Harper dealt with a more serious case of swelling in 2011, while he played for Class A Hagerstown. He missed a game or two then after he concealed the swelling from team trainers for a week. Then, he said, he could barely pick up a bat. Now, he has no worries. Harper took a full complement of batting practice today, and at one point he smashed three balls over the left field fence in four swings.

“It’ll be fine,” he said. “If it does hurt, I’m still going to play, anyway.”

And here is the full Nationals’ lineup, which will face Braves starter Kris Medlen at windy Space Coast Stadium.

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Jayson Werth, RF

3. Bryce Harper, LF

4. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

5. Adam LaRoche, 1B

6. Ian Desmond, SS

7. Danny Espinosa, 2B

8. Kurt Suzuki, C

9. Jordan Zimmermann, SP

Adam Kilgore covers the Nationals for The Washington Post.
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Adam Kilgore · March 23, 2013