Manager Matt Williams of the Washington Nationals reports that the injured Bryce Harper will return to left field when healthy.
A healthy Harper is good for everyone except current third baseman Anthony Rendon. On the 2014 season, Rendon is batting .270 with 37 RBIs. Williams wants Harper in left field, which will place Ryan Zimmerman back at third base, although Zimmerman has shown an ability to play the outfield. The move would displace Rendon, leaving his infield fate up in the air.
Williams and GM Mike Rizzo are not concerning themselves with the defensive lineup at this time. That leaves Rendon to fret over his future on his own. His statistics speak for themselves and the Nationals would be wise to find a starting spot for him when Harper returns. For now though, the Nats will wait and see how Harper moves along with his rehab assignment until making any final decisions about the roster.
Trade talks have circulated around Denard Span. Span has produced this year and can draw offers on the open market. Trading away a starting player could also make room for Rendon.
Harper is on the DL with a thumb injury and took his first swings since having surgery this week. The injured Harper underwent a similar surgery to Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton. Hamilton bounced back from the injury without a hitch, and the Nationals are hopeful that Harper will do the same. The Nats had Harper take a few swings in a batting cage Tuesday afternoon, and the team expects to move him up to a full batting practice soon.
If things move according to plan, Harper will begin his rehab assignment within the next two weeks with a return timetable of early July. Without a doubt, the Nats will benefit from Harper’s return no matter where he ends up in the lineup. Look for him to add some much-needed power, helping the likes of Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth.
The only player to be concerned about the return is Rendon. In order for him to prove that he deserves a starting role on the team, he must continue to produce.