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Nationals' Harper strong in 1st BP since injury

WASHINGTON (AP) Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper is showing plenty of pop as he resumes on-field batting practice for the first time since undergoing ligament surgery on his left thumb last month.

Manager Matt Williams joked that the team ''almost ran out of baseballs'' during Harper's return to BP on Thursday.

Williams said Harper will begin a minor league rehab assignment after the Nationals begin a road trip next week.

Harper said he wants to spend eight or nine games in the minors to really push his thumb before returning to the big league club.

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