Mike Rizzo talks Bryce Harper, Josh Willingham, pitching

Gene Wang
Copyright 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010; 6:41 PM

Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo spoke late this afternoon as the team took batting practice at Citizens Bank Park, covering a wide range of topics, including Bryce Harper, whom the club signed just before Monday's midnight deadline. Harper is scheduled to be introduced to the media during the next homestand, but Rizzo did not indicate a specific day. Washington will play its next three games in Philadelphia, then will come home for seven straight at Nationals Park, beginning on Monday against the Chicago Cubs. Once Harper has completed his media obligations, he will fly directly to Florida, where he will join Washington's Gulf Coast League affiliate. The Nationals are sure he will participate in the instructional league in Florida after the minor league season ends, and he might play in the Arizona Fall League. "What we'll do is we'll prepare him for an instructional league in Florida," Rizzo said of Harper. "He'll do his work with the GCL team, probably not playing in the games. Contractually, he's not going to play in the games in the GCL." Rizzo also discussed the status of Josh Willingham, who was sent to the 15-day disabled list with an injury to the meniscus in his left knee. Initial indications were the slugging left fielder would require surgery, but Rizzo wasn't as definitive today. "Surgery hasn't been scheduled," Rizzo said. "I don't think it's a forgone conclusion that it's surgery yet. He's at home now in Alabama. He's going to fly to D.C. when we get home, going to see our doctors, and we're going to see what course we're going to take." Meantime, the Nationals are getting set to welcome back pitcher Jordan Zimmermann in the coming weeks. The plan for now is for Zimmermann to make one more minor league start, then bring him to the majors, as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery a year ago. "We've been taking him start by start," Rizzo said. "If he throws well, we'd probably consider bringing him back. Put it this way: If there's no need for another minor league start, developmentally-wise, or to get him ready to pitch up here, then we would bring him up here." In his most recent outing on Sunday, Zimmermann yielded one run over five inning for Syracuse. He threw 73 pitches and gave up five hits and a walk.

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