ATLANTA (AP) — Bryce Harper hopes to begin running and hitting next week and come off the disabled list the first day he is eligible.
But Harper acknowledged Sunday that his injured left knee had not improved yet.
Harper was placed on the 15-day DL on Saturday, retroactive to May 27, with bursitis in his left knee.
Harper said, “I feel all right,” before adding: “It’s still swollen and crappy. I’m just trying to get treatment and see if the swelling will go down.”
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Saturday the team would not have placed Harper on the disabled list if the outfielder was close to being ready to play.
Harper said he would have tried to play through the injury in a more critical stage of the season.
“If we’re in September, October, I’m going to play,” he said. “I wouldn’t be sitting down right now. It’s one of those things, you’ve got to be smart about what you do and just try to come in every day and get better.”
He is eligible to come off the disabled list June 11, when the Nationals open a series at Colorado.
The knee has bothered Harper since he crashed into the wall May 13 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He confirmed Sunday he aggravated the injury with a head-first slide into third base against the Phillies on May 25.
“That’s when it got very puffed up and then it got bad,” he said.
He said he won’t let the risk of injury affect his style of play.
“That’s just the way I play,” he said. “I want to go out there and give 110 percent to these fans and myself. I want to look myself in the mirror and tell myself, ‘Hey, you gave your all today and yeah, you’re 0-for-4, that happens.’ A good day on the field is going 110 percent, working hard, running everything out and doing things the right way.”
Harper missed five straight games before being placed on the DL.
Harper was asked Sunday if he is concerned his aggressive style will make it difficult for him to have a long career.
“The way I work in the offseason, the way I work and get ready for my season, I think I’m not prone to have a shorter career,” he said. “I think I’m going to play this game for 20 years, and I don’t care what anyone says.”
The Nationals hope to have outfielder Jayson Werth come off the 15-day disabled list Tuesday. He has been out with a right hamstring injury since May 3.
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