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Report: Nationals OF Bryce Harper to take light swings, play catch next week

Bryce Harper was hitting .289 with one home run and 9 RBI before his UCL tear in April. (MCT/Getty Images) Bryce Harper was hitting .289 with one home run and 9 RBI before his UCL tear in April. (MCT/Getty Images)

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, out since April 26 with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb, will take light swings and play catch next week, according to James Wagner of the Washington Post.

The news is a step forward in the cautious rehab program the organization has taken in bringing their former NL Rookie of the Year back to the lineup.  As Wagner points out, no batting practice is scheduled for him and there's no firm date set for his return to the field. The initial prognosis called for six to eight weeks of recovery following surgery. Earlier in June, Nats manager Matt Williams said he would like to see Harper return in the first week of July.

Before the injury, the 21-year-old two-time All-Star had appeared in just 22 games this season, hitting .289 with one homer and 9 RBI. The Nationals are first in the NL East with a 35-31 record heading into Saturday night's game in St. Louis against the Cardinals.

SI WIRE: Report: Cubs OF Emilio Bonifacio out indefinitely after MRI reveals oblique strain

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