Harper returns to lineup; Span, Espinosa still out

Toni L. Sandys/TWP

Toni L. Sandys/TWP

MIAMI — Bryce Harper sat at his locker in the Nationals clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon, chatting with teammates and then lounging on a couch while watching the news. Denard Span, also victim of flu-like symptoms over since Monday night, was in the clubhouse, too. Their mere presences were already improvements, as both could barely keep food down the previous day.

Harper was well enough to return to the Nationals lineup and bat third Wednesday. Span, however, was still a step behind Harper and would only be available if needed late in the game, according to Manager Davey Johnson. Roger Bernadina again started in center field for Span and Steve Lombardozzi at second base for Danny Espionsa, who was injured when hit by a pitch in the right wrist on Sunday.

“[Harper] looked a lot better than he did last night when he sat over there, acting like he wanted to pinch hit,” Johnson said. “He was white as a sheet. He looks a lot better and feels a lot better. He’s young, 20 years old, what the heck.”

Harper said he woke up around 3:30 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep until 1 p.m. All he could manage to eat since was rice and pretzels, he said, and chug a ton of fluids to replace all that he lost. He took some swings in the indoor batting cage in the afternoon and still felt a little weak. He said he may have even suffered from food poisoning, but overall, he reported that he felt better.

Span is unsure how he fell ill because he wasn’t around Harper on Monday, other than in the clubhouse and dugout. He also had trouble keeping anything down and was sent home from the stadium because he looked so ill. He isn’t sure how much weight he has lost the past 24 hours, but said it’s noticeable. On Wednesday, he also took some swings in the batting cage and could finally hold down some food.

“I feel better than I felt yesterday,” he said. “Twice as better. I got a lot of rest.”

Espinosa, meantime,  had originally hoped to return to the lineup Wednesday, but Johnson said the second baseman is not ready after getting hit by a pitch on his wrist Sunday.  He took a few grounders during batting practice and played catch with bench coach Randy Knorr with a heavily taped up hand and wrist. Espinosa said he felt better on Wednesday, but “not good enough.”

Johnson estimated Espinosa had a 50-50 chance to play on Friday. X-rays were negative on Espionsa’s hand and wrist, but he is still receiving regular treatment. No MRI tests are scheduled, Johnson said. “I’m being optimistic,” he said.

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