A day after Davey Johnson projected Tuesday as Bryce Harper?s target date for a rehab assignment, the Nats outfielder said that may be wishful thinking.?
Harper himself doesn?t expect to play until Wednesday or Thursday and hopes to have as many as six or seven minor league games before he is brought back up to join the Nationals.
?Tuesday, that?s kind of early,? Harper said. ?I?m thinking?Wednesday?or Thursday?maybe. I?m not sure. We?ll see how I feel. If I feel good, then I?ll go play. If I feel something isn?t right, then I?m not going to go play. It depends on how I?m feeling.?
Johnson said on Friday he didn?t think Harper would need a lot of time in the minors, maybe three games or so. Harper would like to be there longer.
?Absolutely not,? Harper said. ?I would like to be at six or seven games. I want to play six games. That?s one thing, I want to get my timing back. I don?t want to come back one game after I play against High-A ball and come back facing Wheeler and Matt Harvey or something. I?m not going to face those guys. They?d blow me away right now. That?s something I don?t want to do. I?m going play as many games as I can down there, see how I feel, and try and get back.?
When informed that Harper wanted to take it slower, Johnson said it?s more his call as the manager.
?I'll have a conversation with him about that,? Johnson said. ?When a player starts playing, it's really up to me, what I think they need. Not up to the player. I'm always trying to do what's best for the player. But at the same time, it's my job to know when they're ready and when they're not.?
Harper and the Nats? medical staff will be monitoring the swelling in his knee over the next few days. Harper said the knee is finally pain-free.
?It?s still going to be sore the whole year, I feel like. But daily, it?s getting better. I have no pain, which is good,? he said.?
?I?m a little sore everywhere else, but that?s common. It?s good to have no pain finally. To run with zero pain is going to feel great. I?m feeling better every day. I?m just trying to do things the right way so that things go well when I get back.?