In Woodbridge, Virginia on Tuesday night, Washington Nationals’ Wilson Ramos and Bryce Harper continued their rehab stints with the Potomac Nationals.
For the first time this season, Harper got the start in centerfield, where he would play five full innings. Ramos got the start at catcher, his usual spot, where he would play a full nine-inning game for the second night in a row.
After his first rehab start on Monday, Harper told reporters that he wanted to see plenty of pitches so he could get his timing down. Thanks to Potomac finding plenty of early offense, Harper would see four at bats in his five innings of work.
All in all, Harper saw 13 pitches and went 2-for-3 with a walk, RBI single and three-run home run in the fifth inning. His three-run blast came on a 3-1 pitch and was over the right-centerfield wall in a hurry. In centerfield, his night was uneventful as he saw just a grounder up the middle in the first inning, but nothing else.
“It felt really good,” said Harper when asked about his home run after the game. “I was trying to be patient and got a good hitting count. I was able to put some good wood on the ball.”
Harper has been on the DL since April 26th with a torn ligament in his thumb. On Monday, Harper said that he felt a little vibration in his thumb, but not enough to affect his ability at the plate. On Tuesday, Harper said he felt no vibration.
“There was no vibration or anything like that,” said Harper. “I hit the ball pretty good and the thumb felt good.”
Regarding his time playing centerfield in quite some time, Harper said that he was comfortable. “It felt great,” he said. “I love playing center. … It was great being back out there.”
In his two rehab starts, he’s only been able to put his thumb through so much. Harper specifically mentioned sliding and getting jammed at the plate as two plays he has yet to put his thumb through, but wants to do just that before returning.
“I’m going to take a day tomorrow and lift,” said Harper when asked about his future plans. “I’m going to see how I feel, see what I can do. I’ll talk to the guys tomorrow to see where I go.”
Harper went on to say that he feels no urgency to return to the Nationals, but that’s only because he wants to ensure that he’s at 100-percent. When asked if a sooner return than previously expected was possible, Harper said that he wants to remain on the same rehab schedule without deviation.
Behind the plate, Ramos had a solid night. On the mound for Potomac, Austin Voth was having quite the high-A debut after being promoted from Hagerstown. In six innings, he gave up just two hits, no runs, two walks and six strikeouts. On two occasions did Ramos have to go to his knees to field a bouncing ball, but that would be as eventful as his night would get behind the plate.
With a bat in his hand, Ramos went 2-for-5 with a a pair of RBI singles. Rehabbing a hamstring strain, the important thing was to see his ability to run. On just one occasion did he need to hustle down the line when he hit a short grounder to right field.
“It feels great,” said Ramos when asked about his hamstring. “It was my last day in rehab and it felt great. I’m ready to rejoin the team and help the team win games.”
Ramos added that he’ll fly to Chicago on Wednesday to meet the team and be ready to play in the series opener with the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, June 26th.
Brian Skinnell is a sports writer born and raised in the Washington, D.C.-metro area and covers the Washington Nationals, Wizards and MiLB for District Sports Page. He’s had work published on Yahoo Sports and Rant Sports, and has made several radio show appearances across the country to discuss his works. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+!