Alex Brandon/AP Alex Brandon/AP

Nationals Manager Davey Johnson hoped that Bryce Harper could return on Wednesday from an inflamed left knee and serve as the designated hitter. But before Tuesday’s game Johnson said the bursitis in Harper’s knee, which stems from a May 13 collision with the right field fence in Los Angeles, was still a concern even though the swelling had diminished.

“I was probably being optimistic he could DH over in Baltimore,” Johnson said. “Probably not looking good for that.”

Harper hasn’t played since Sunday when he aggravated the knee injury sliding. He left the game after seven innings and hasn’t played since. Since the collision, lingering issues with the knee have forced Harper to return to the bench twice. He hasn’t started five of 14 games.

Johnson suggested Harper would miss four games but the outfielder is technically day to day. Once the swelling and inflammation improves, the Nationals medical staff believes Harper would be safe to play. They said on Monday that there was no structural damage to Harper’s knee.

“It’s not a debilitating injury,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “It’s a nuisance injury. It’s a bursa sac. You hit it the wrong way it swells up and it’s painful. But when the swelling goes down you’re able to play. The injury doesn’t get worse with wear and tear so we feel that when the swelling goes down he is able to play he’s able to play.”