(Toni L. Sandys)

Harper, 19, did not play yesterday, his first scheduled day off after playing in the Nationals’ first five games this spring, including all nine innings Tuesday in Orlando. Harper is 5 for 11 this spring with five singles.

While Harper faces long odds to make the Nationals’ opening day roster, Manager Davey Johnson has advocated that team officials at least consider the possibility. Harper, the 2010 first overall pick, spent last year with Class A Hagerstown and Class AA Harrisburg. The Nationals do not think Harper will miss an extended period of time, but if his calf tightness lingers it could have an impact on where Harper begins the 2012 season.

Harper felt the tightness in his calf when he woke up this morning. He had not felt any soreness there recently or in the past, and the sensation surprised him. He tried to warm up when he arrived at Space Coast Stadium, but nothing worked.

“I’ve never felt it before,” Harper said. “That was the weird thing. I woke up this morning and I had no clue, like, what’s going on here? I came in and tried to ride the bike, tried to loosen it up. It didn’t feel any less sore at all.”

Harper hoped to make tomorrow’s trip to Jupiter for a 7:05 p.m. game, which seems unlikely. But he could return by the start of next week.

“I’m trying to be as careful as I can,” Harper said. “I’d rather miss two days or three days down here than five during the season.”

Manager Davey Johnson said he is not worried about Harper’s injury and also expects him to miss two or three days. Harper would have traveled to Lakeland on Saturday to face Tigers starter Justin Verlander, the reigning American League Cy Young winner and MVP. 
"He's sitting on that average and ducking Verlander," Johnson joked.