WASHINGTON -- After watching Bryce Harper play two games in Los Angeles, Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner was impressed by the outfielder's first batting opportunities.
Harper went 2-for-6 with a walk and an RBI against the Dodgers.
"I was really impressed by how patient he was at the plate," Lerner said. "Everybody has heard about the power, the sound of the ball off the bat like the great ones, his throwing ability, his catching ability. No question about it, it's very impressive during the first weekend. I was so impressed with his patience at the plate. I saw him during Spring Training and he was [a little impatient], so I was very impressed [by what he did this weekend]."
Entering Tuesday's action, the Nationals are in first place in the National League East with a 14-8 record, and Lerner is pleased with the results. He acknowledged he would like to see the offense improve. The team had a .226 batting average entering Tuesday. It doesn't help that Washington's middle-of-the-order hitters -- Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse -- are on the disabled list.
"If anyone asked us on April 5, 'Would we take 14-8 at the end of April,' we would say, 'Where would we sign?'" Lerner said. "We are excited. If we had our hitting -- with all these injuries -- where would we have been? We can do a lot if we get healthy. If we can stay healthy, it will be a very special year."
Zimmerman throws, slated to start BP Saturday
WASHINGTON -- Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who is on the 15-day disabled list because of an inflamed right shoulder, threw the baseball without any problems Tuesday.
Zimmerman is also scheduled to start taking batting practice on Saturday. The third baseman is eligible to come off the disabled list early next week. There isn't any talk of Zimmerman doing a rehab stint.
With Zimmerman out of the lineup, Stephen Lombardozzi will get most of the playing time at third base.
Rizzo hints Harper could stick around for while
WASHINGTON -- On Friday, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said there wasn't a guarantee that outfielder Bryce Harper was going to stay in the Major Leagues once Ryan Zimmerman comes off the disabled list.
But on Tuesday, Rizzo hinted that Harper could stay if he performs on the field.
"If I'm satisfied with how he is developing, on how he is performing and how he is interacting -- if he is ready mentally, physically, emotionally to stay here -- then he will stay," Rizzo said. "He may change the developmental plan for us."
Morse eyes June return from disabled list
WASHINGTON -- Nationals outfielder Michael Morse, on the disabled list because of a torn right lat muscle, is shooting to play in the big leagues by June, when the Nationals are in the midst of Interleague Play. Morse could serve as designated hitter at American League parks once he comes off the disabled list.
"I know I'm going to play. The main goal is to play when we start playing the AL teams -- DHing and stuff," Morse said. "June 1, I'm looking for my 2012 season to start."
Morse is hoping to start a throwing program next week. It's throwing that has given him the most problems when it comes to his injury.
Moore to come off Nationals' bench
WASHINGTON -- Manager Davey Johnson announced that outfielder/first baseman Tyler Moore will come off the bench for the Nationals. The skipper wants to give Xavier Nady every chance to get his bat going.
Nady will start in left field against left-handed pitching, while Bryce Harper will start in center. Nady is off to a slow start, going 7-for 54 (.130) with a home run and one RBI.
"Unless somebody has a little injury, I'll probably use [Moore] off the bench," Johnson said. "There are a lot of players ahead of him that need to play. We need to get Nady going. I still have a lot of confidence in him."
Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang's next rehab start is tentatively scheduled for Thursday at Double-A Harrisburg. In his first rehab start, Wang allowed one run in four innings for Class A Potomac.
With the Nationals hitting .226 entering Tuesday's action, general manager Mike Rizzo said he is not looking to make any moves to acquire a hitter outside of the organization.
"We feel that the guys that we have that are coming back, we are not making a push outside for offense or bullpen," Rizzo said. "We are satisfied. We like the club that we have. We need to get healthy. In the meantime, we need to play good baseball, be more competitive offensively, continue pitching and playing defense."
Closer Drew Storen, on the disabled list because of a bone chip in his right elbow, is looking to start baseball activities in the next week or two.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.