The last time Bryce Harper appeared in a Senators uniform he left the field with a season-ending leg injury. Thursday turned out to be a much better night for the Nationals star.
Harper was 2-for-4 with a triple, two RBIs and two runs scored as Double-A Harrisburg defeated Bowie, 11-6.
In his first Eastern League game since Aug. 18, 2011, the 20-year-old outfielder began the night with a first-inning walk and scored on Terry Bloxom's double. Harper smacked a two-run triple in the second, crossing the plate on Jerad Head's double, and singled in the third. He fouled out to third in the fifth and struck out swinging in the seventh before leaving for a defensive replacement.
"I hadn't seen him play much, but I thought he was really aggressive," Harrisburg manager Matt LeCroy told MLB.com. "Scoring from first, that was a big one, then the triple. I saw some aggressive baserunning and kind of running like I'm normally used to watching him run."
While the Nationals would like to see the Nevada native play nine innings before his return the Majors, LeCroy said the length of the first few innings, in which the Senators and Baysox combined for 10 runs, led to Harper coming out for a defensive replacement.
"First couple innings were very lengthy," LeCroy said, explaining the decision to remove Harper early. "He had to score from first, he had the triple. He got on the bases and then a lot of time out in the outfield. It was just too long.
"He'd been out there 2 1/2 hours, 2:40, so it was sort of similar to playing a full game. But he looked good, swung the bat well, made a couple plays in the outfield. I thought he moved around good on the bases, so it was a good sign."
Harper was shut down after hurting his hamstring in the 2011 contest against Akron. He made the jump to Triple-A to open 2012 before joining the Nationals and winning the National League Rookie of the Year award. He was off to a terrific start this year, slugging 12 homers and posting a .973 OPS in 44 games for Washington before hitting the disabled list with knee bursitis.
Jason Martinson, the Nationals' No. 20 prospect, was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs in his Double-A debut. Bloxom and Head finished with three hits and three RBIs apiece. Brian Goodwin, the club's No. 2 prospect, scored three runs out of the leadoff spot.
Ty Kelly had two hits and drove in two runs for Bowie.