Alex Brandon/AP Alex Brandon/AP

Bryce Harper’s swollen left knee improved enough for him to taking batting practice on Wednesday in Baltimore, and further test it with jogging in the outfield before Thursday’s game followed by more batting practice.

Harper, who is suffering from bursitis in his left knee, aggravated the injury Sunday and hasn’t played since. Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said he was targeting a Friday return for Harper in Atlanta. Once the swelling lessens, the Nationals believe he will be safe to play again.

“It’s mostly on how the player feels,” Johnson said. “I think it’s lessened enough to where he feels a lot better about it. Until he goes out here and does a few things, he’s not really going to really know.”

While testing out his knee out in the outfield, Harper was jogging and didn’t appear to be running at full speed. He then took batting practice on the field and still launched home runs. But he didn’t look completely recovered. As Harper finished his workout, Johnson noted that the outfielder still “looks real gimpy.”

Before his workout, Harper admitted the knee was was still bugging him. Other than some hitting, he has only been able to work out his upper body. He has rested and iced his left knee.

“It’s alright,” he said. “It’s really not going anywhere. It’s staying the same and it sucks I can tell you that, not being on the field and being able to play. I’ll see how I feel [Friday] in Atlanta, get out there and hopefully run a little bit and take some BP, maybe. Not rushing.”

Harper first hurt the knee May 13, when he collided with the right field wall in Los Angeles.

“It really kills me, especially being a guy that wants to play every day,” he said. “It’s just one of those things where I don’t want it to linger and sliding into second base and being out six weeks instead of taking a week. I’m going to take it easy as I can and get back out there when I can.”