Bryce Harper isn't ready yet, but Nationals fans shouldn't worry

With the National League East wrapped up for a while now, Washington Nationals fans have had one thing on their mind the past few weeks: When will stud outfielder Bryce Harper return?

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On Sunday, it appeared the wait was over. The Washington Post reported that Harper was set to return to the Nationals on Monday when the Nationals took on the Philadelphia Phillies. That is no longer happening …

But it’s OK, Nationals fans. Harper did not have a setback in his injured knee. Instead, he’s just dealing with the flu.

Manager Dusty Baker confirmed that news during a pregame news conference. He said Harper woke up with the flu Monday morning. Harper received fluids prior to the game in order to try and recover. He’s not in the starting lineup for Monday’s game, and he probably won’t appear, as the team will err on the side of caution.

This is, obviously, good news for the team. Harper’s health was one of the few questions facing the Nationals as the postseason approached. After a down year, the 24-year-old returned to form in 2017, hitting .326/.419/.614, with 29 home runs, prior to his injury.

Harper has been out since Aug. 12 due to a “significant” bone bruise on his left knee. He suffered the injury after slipping on first base while trying to beat out a hit. Monday’s game will mark the 41st contest he’s missed after the injury.

Bryce Harper is waiting to get back on the field. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Bryce Harper is waiting to get back on the field. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Assuming Harper recovers normally, he should be able to return to the team in the next few days. After Monday’s game, the club has six games left in the regular season. The team will have to be smart about giving Harper enough at-bats to get him back on track while also making sure they don’t overextend him after he missed time.

While six games may not be enough, it’s better than nothing. Even if Harper is limited, or not fully in game shape by the time the postseason begins, he’s still a major threat in the Nationals lineup.

Fans may have to wait an additional day to see him back on the field, but anything that gets him back in time for the postseason will be well worth it.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

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