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NATIONALS: Bryce Harper To Make Debut With Ryan Zimmerman To DL

By ZAC BOYER | | @ZacBoyer

Though Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo maintained the organization has a developmental plan in place for Bryce Harper, the team will recall the 19-year-old phenom from Triple-A Syracuse today to make his debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The move came after the Nationals placed third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder. Zimmerman’s loss, coupled with the injury first baseman/outfielder Mike Morse sustained in spring training, has left a hole in the lineup the Nationals hope Harper can fill.

“We still have a very good and committed developmental plan for Bryce in place,” Rizzo said Friday. “I still believe very passionately in the plan and I’m very, very committed to it, but this was expedited by the circumstances of two of our middle-of-the-lineup guys going down – that being Morse and Ryan Zimmerman – and we felt that we wanted to bring in an impactful left-handed bat that could play corner outfield.”

Harper went 18-for-72 (.250) over his first 20 games in Syracuse with four doubles, a home run, three RBIs, eight runs and 14 strikeouts. Over his last six games, though, Harper broke out of his slump, hitting 5-for-13 with four runs, two RBIs, three strikeouts and four walks.

Rizzo was in Rochester, home of the Minnesota Twins’ Triple A affiliate, to watch Harper play over the last three days. Though his visit was not specifically to evaluate Harper’s major league readiness, and he spoke to Harper several times during the visit, it wasn’t until the team received word Friday afternoon that Zimmerman would need a stint on the disabled list that the decision to promote Harper was made.

Harper will play in left field for the Nationals the team “didn’t bring him up here not to play him,” Rizzo said. His performance will be evaluated until Zimmerman comes off the disabled list on or around May 6, at which point a decision will be made on what to do with Harper.

The No. 1 pick in the 2010 first-year player draft, Harper signed a five-year, $9.9 million contract after being selected. He is regarded by Baseball America as baseball’s top prospect.


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