“I can’t feel it when I’m hitting,” Harper said. “The only time I feel it is when I push off or something like that. There’s a little bit of discomfort, but hopefully I’ll be able to play tomorrow, and if not, Sunday.”
Harper woke up Thursday morning with soreness in his calf, and he could not loosen up the muscle when he arrived at Space Coast Stadium and rode a stationary bike. Today, he has yet to try to test the calf by running.
“That’s the only time I feel a little bit of pain,” Harper said. “I’m just going to take it day by day, see how it feels tomorrow morning, ride the bike a little bit and see if I can get on that trip.”
Manager Davey Johnson had originally planned to send Harper to the Nationals’ split-squad game in Lakeland against the Tigers and scheduled starter Justin Verlander, the reigning American League Cy Young winner and MVP. As long he feels better, Harper will lobby for the chance to face Verlander.
“It would be fun,” Harper said. “It would be a good experience to try that. I think it would be pretty fun to try and go in there and face him. And if not, hopefully I’ll get the chance during the season.”
(The Nationals and Tigers actually don’t play this season, so Harper’s only shot to face Verlander would be in the World Series.)
In another injury note, Michael Morse said he’s feeling better but isn’t sure of the Nationals’ plan for him. Yesterday, Johnson said he wanted to have Morse take at-bats in an intrasquad minor league game.
Also, Chris Marrero is making progress in his comeback from a torn hamstring. Today, he will take full batting practice today for the first time since his surgery this winter. He’s also been able to expand his running and has been taking groundballs.