AKRON, Ohio — Not only is Bryce Harper getting closer to rejoining his Washington Nationals teammates, on Friday he was able to enjoy some family bonding time in his second rehab outing with the Harrisburg Senators.
Batting third and playing all nine innings in center field as he tested his left thumb, Harper went 1 for 2 with a single, two walks, two RBI and two stolen bases to help lead the Nationals’ Class AA club to a 4-3 victory over the host Akron RubberDucks.
Harper’s older brother — left-hander Bryan Harper — pitched a hitless eighth inning as the two brothers played in front of a crowd of 7,547 that included their parents.
Although the brothers declined to speak to the media, Senators Manager Brian Daubach was happy to have a hand in providing the special moment for the Harper family.
“It was pretty cool,” Daubach said. “I mean, I never got a chance to play with my brothers in professional baseball. Not many of us do. But it was a special case with Bryce here for a short time to play center field and Bryan, who’s earned it, coming in as a left-handed reliever to face three lefties in a close ballgame.
Bryce Harper opened his second game with the Senators with a one-out walk in the first inning after Michael Taylor doubled to start the game. Harper was soon caught in a rundown on an attempted double steal, keeping himself safe long enough to allow Taylor to score the first run.
“It was a smart baseball play,” Daubach said.
In Harper’s next at-bat in the third inning, Akron right-hander Cody Anderson quickly got ahead of Harper with an 0-2 count, only to watch the major league slugger deposit the next pitch into left field for an opposite-field single that scored Cutter Dykstra, who doubled ahead of Harper with two outs.
In the bottom of the inning, Harper ran over to help left fielder Drew Vettleson when a ball he was chasing off the bat of Akron designated hitter Jake Lowery bounced off the base of the left center field wall and caromed away. Harper grabbed the ball and threw to third base, nearly throwing out Lowery as he slid in for an RBI triple. Harper made an easy catch in center on a ball hit right at him two batters later to end the inning.
Harper worked his second walk of the game in his third plate appearance in the sixth inning.
In his fourth and final plate appearance in the eighth, Harper was jammed on a 1-2 count by Akron reliever Enosil Tejeda but reached on a run-scoring fielder’s choice.
With his thumb protected by a black soft cast, Harper promptly stole second base. After the next batter struck out, Harper stole third but was stranded there.
Before the night was over, Harper made a strong throw from the outfield to keep the tying run from scoring, hitting the cutoff man to force the runner to hold at third.
Harper is expected to spend the rest of the weekend with the Senators in Akron, and Nationals Manager Matt Williams has said Harper could return to Washington’s lineup as early as Monday.