Harper's return delayed by flu-like symptoms

Harper's return delayed by flu-like symptoms

PHILADELPHIA -- Bryce Harper's return to the Nationals' lineup will have to wait at least another day. Harper was not active for Monday's game against the Phillies after waking up earlier in the day with flu-like symptoms.

The club planned to have Harper return for the first time since suffering a left knee injury Aug. 12, but instead, Harper spent the day receiving treatment from the team training staff and will be evaluated again Tuesday.

"He was actually here before I got here, trying to get well," manager Dusty Baker said. "You know Bryce, he is champing at the bit to play. So it's just another minor setback."

This was the 42nd game Harper has missed this season since being sidelined with a bone bruise in his hyperextended knee, and a calf strain. If his return occurs Tuesday he'll still have six games to prepare for the postseason.

The key for Harper down the stretch, he said last week, is getting his timing back at the plate. Harper hits a lot during the offseason and Spring Training to prepare for the start of the season and will be playing catch-up when he returns this week. Baker was not sure about an optimal number of at-bats necessary for Harper to feel sharp at the plate, however, he did plan to ease Harper back into action this week.

"This is, in essence, Spring Training for him," Baker said. "I just think it's a miracle that we're even talking about it."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.