Harper plays catch for first time since injury

Harper plays catch for first time since injury

MIAMI -- For the first time since injuring his left knee more than three weeks ago, Bryce Harper resumed any form of baseball activities by playing catch in right field on Tuesday at Marlins Park.

Harper's tossing session was very light -- his throwing partner stood less than 90 feet away -- but he was able to put weight on the knee he lands on when he throws. He hyperextended the knee on first base against the Giants on Aug. 12.

That the Nats' superstar resumed these very light baseball activities is a good sign of his progress, though it's still unknown when he will return this season.

"It's very encouraging. You know, you see him doing light baseball activities, you know he's on the way," Nats manager Dusty Baker said. "Nobody can predict exactly where he is, but he at least initiated signs of progress. You can't rush progress."

Harper injures knee

The Nationals don't plan on rushing the face of the franchise back, but they know the clock is ticking. Harper, who hasn't swung a bat in any capacity yet, would still have to clear multiple stages before he's back in right field and hitting in the middle of Washington's lineup.

Despite the numerous impact players he has, Baker knows how important Harper would be a month from now in the postseason.

"At some point, we're gonna need Harp," Baker said. "They say injuries are no excuse, which they aren't, but it depends who's hurt."

Harper is slashing .326/.419/.614 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs. The 24-year-old's 5.0 WAR ranks 10th in the Majors, per Fangraphs.com, even though he has missed the team's last 23 games. The club has gone 14-9 during that span.

Jayson Werth will keep manning right field since coming off the disabled list. In six games there, Werth has already committed one error. He had one error in 44 contests in left field this year.

The last time the 38-year-old Werth predominantly played in right was 2014. Still, Baker is confident he'll have little trouble there.

"I think right field is the easiest, to me. Not many guys hit the ball hard to right field. Everybody hits the ball hard to left field," Baker said. "I think that's an easy transition for him."

Patrick Pinak is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.