Slowed Harper out until at least Sunday

By Bill Ladson and Anthony Chiang / MLB.com | 03/09/12 6:30 PM EST



VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper was able to take batting practice at Space Coast Stadium on Friday, but was ordered not to run because he is still suffering from left calf tightness, which means he will not play against the Marlins on Friday or the Tigers on Saturday.
"[Running] is the only time I feel a little bit of pain," Harper said. "I feel good. I'm just going to take it day by day and see how I feel tomorrow morning."
Harper was expected to start against the Astros on Thursday, but was a late scratch because of the calf injury.



Eury Perez replaced Harper in the lineup for Washington's 8-0 win. Perez played center field, while Brett Carroll was switched from center to right.
Harper said he woke up Thursday morning with the tightness.
Manager Davey Johnson said Harper is expected to miss at least two more games, which will not hurt his chances making the 25-man roster.
"It's probably at least three more days," Johnson said. "So he's had one, and then probably tomorrow and the next day. I don't know, we'll see how it goes."
Harper is 5-for-11 (.455), with five singles. Johnson said he is going to give Harper every chance to be Washington's everyday right fielder.
Johnson gets closer look at players on bubble

JUPITER, Fla. -- With most of the regulars not playing in Friday's game against the Miami Marlins, manager Davey Johnson had an opportunity to evaluate those who are still fighting to make the team.
Specifically, Johnson had his eye on Jason Michaels, who started at DH, Roger Bernadina, who played in left field and Brett Carroll in right.
"That's what Spring Training is for. You look at guys," Johnson said. "There's no doubt, I like them all. I like all three of them."
With Wade LeBlanc starting for the Marlins, Friday also gave Washington's manager a chance to evaluate how they hit against a southpaw.
Johnson added that a player's ability to hit against lefties would play a big role in his final decision because he is looking for his bench to be able to match up against different bullpens.
"If I like a guy's approach, his preparation, his at-bat, that tells me a lot," Johnson said. "Is he up there for a walk or is he up there to get a base hit? You can tell that pretty early. All of those things go into what I'm looking for."
But their ability to play in the outfield won't be ignored, as Johnson knows National League teams must have players that can play in the field on their bench.
"It's not just pinch-hitting or double switching," he said. "I want a guy that can hit, but will he be good playing two or three days because somebody is injured? It's not just having a pure hitter like we did in the American League for a designated-hitter role. But I would like their specialty to be swinging the lumber."
Marrero takes first batting practice

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals first baseman Chris Marrero took swings in the batting cage on Friday at Space Coast Stadium. It was the first time Marrero was able to swing the bat with the rest of his teammates.
Before Friday, Marrero could only swing off the batting tee because of a torn left hamstring.
"I felt great. I was anxious to get out here and do stuff with the team," Marrero said. "So I'm happy. I want to at least participate in more activities."
However, Marrero still has a long way to go before he plays in a game. He is expected to miss at least half of the 2012 season because of the injured hamstring suffered while playing for the Licey Tigers in the Dominican Winter League. Marrero hurt his hamstring stretching for a thrown ball. He later had surgery.
"If it was up to me, I would want to play right now," Marrero said. "I'm not ready now. ... I want to know what I can do -- baserunning and doing all that stuff. I think that is going to be the big part [as well as] stretching at first, too."
Injured Morse getting better

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals slugger Michael Morse, who has played only one Spring Training game because of a strained lat (back) muscle, shagged fly balls on Friday at Space Coast Stadium, but was not allowed to throw.
Morse is hoping to begin a throwing program Saturday and begin playing in a Minor League game by Sunday. The program will include soft tossing.
"I'm just following whatever they tell me," said Morse, who was the team's MVP last year. "Right now, there isn't any rush. So I would rather be 100 percent than half way there and hurt myself again."
LaRoche expects to play Saturday

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is expected to start his first exhibition game against the Mets at Space Coast Stadium on Saturday. LaRoche will hit fourth in the lineup.
On Friday, LaRoche took batting and fielding practice, which gave strong indications that his left shoulder and foot are almost 100 percent.
"I feel good today. I wish I had more for you," LaRoche said. "I'll keep taping up the foot. Hopefully it will get better as we move on."
Johnson confident in Nats rotation

JUPITER, Fla. -- There isn't a starting pitching staff in Major League Baseball that Davey Johnson would take over his, the Nationals manager said on Friday.
With Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann at the top of Washington's rotation, Johnson even said that his top-three pitchers match up with Philadelphia's top three of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels stuff-wise.
"I'll take my five or six guys over any other staff in this league," Johnson said. "There's a lot of potential."