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Bryce Harper homers in his first at-bat back from disabled list

Welcome back, Bryce Harper.

The Washington Nationals 20-year-old dynamo returned from the disabled list Monday and in his first at-bat, he put a hurting on a ball. He launched a homer to left-center field off Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo, perhaps the best "I'm Back" announcement Harper could make. Fans responded and  Harper emerged for a curtain call afterward.

He missed 31 games after injuring his knee in that brutal collision with the Dodger Stadium right-field wall. The Nats are 16-21 without Harper in the lineup this season, and 25-19 when he plays. If these 41-40 Nationals — whose 2013 expectations are much higher than .500 ball — want to make a summer run at the first-place Atlanta Braves, they're going to need a healthy and potent Harper.

Before the game, Nats manager Davey Johnson talked about what it means to have Harper back in the clubhouse. Via the AP:

''Not only his bat, but I think the energy he brings, he takes a lot of the focus and he's a competitor,'' Johnson said. ''Just to have that 20-year-old energy running around 100 percent, I'm sure he's still probably going to run into the wall, I'm sure he's going to dive headfirst. ... I don't want to put a damper on that. That's who he is, and that's how he plays the game, and that's great.''

Before Bryce's at-bat, one of the Nats TV announcers said, "Maybe he can pretend it's opening day and just homer his first couple of times up." He did, but only hit one in the Nats' 10-5 win. The scene after Harper's first-inning homer actually looked a lot like opening day, when Harper homered in his first at-bat and earned a curtain call afterward.

After Bryce's comeback homer, this has to be how Nats fans are feeling:

View photo


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