PHI@WSH: Harper exits after laboring throughout game

ATLANTA -- "What's up?" is not the right question to ask Bryce Harper these days, even with the best of intentions.

Last season's National League Rookie of the Year was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to Saturday's game in Atlanta against the Braves (retroactive to May 27) with persistent left knee bursitis.

Harper will be shut down for at least the next 10 days.

"I'm not hitting or running," said Harper prior to Sunday afternoon's series finale with Atlanta at Turner Field. "I'll probably start that the middle or the end of next week, if I feel good. If I don't, I'll keep off of it."

That unknown eats at him as much as the day-by-day watch and wait for the swelling to measurably go down.

"It feels better than it did the other day. It's still swollen and crappy," Harper said. "So I'm just trying to get treatment and see if the swelling will go down. Of course I don't like going on the DL. I want to play. It's tough just sitting there and not doing anything."

Harper originally hurt the knee crashing into the wall at Dodger Stadium on May 13. He tried to play through the pain. He aggravated the knee on May 26 in Philadelphia, when he made a pair of head-first slides.

"Once I slid into third base against the Phillies, it really puffed up and it got bad," Harper said. "It's just one of those things you have to move past and try to get better."

With hindsight being 20/20, Harper said he might have considered going on the DL the day after hitting the wall. But it's not the wall at Dodger Stadium to which he referred.

He actually would have considered it after hitting the right-field wall at Turner Field in the fifth inning back on April 30, chasing a Tim Hudson home run. But he couldn't do it.

"After I hit the wall here, I should have probably gone on the DL and really just tried to get better and come back 15 days later," he said. "But with a lot of guys out, I wanted to stay in the lineup. Of course I want to play every day. It's something that maybe I'll learn more in my career, to take off 15 days instead of lose the month or whatever."

Harper, who's hitting .287, with 12 homers (tied for fifth in the NL), 23 RBIs, and a .587 slugging percentage (fourth in the league), found a bright side in sitting, as it will allow his entire body to heal. Ideally he'll be back for the team's series in Colorado a week from Monday.

"It lets everything heal: my hand, my wrist, my side, everything," he said. "Hopefully I'll come back and be full strength.

"If we're in September or October, I'm going to play," Harper added. "I don't want to be sitting out right now. It's just one of those things where you've got to be smart about what you do and just try to come in every day and get better and do things the right way."

The right way won't mean Harper changing how he plays.

"I want to go out there, I want to give 110 percent to these fans and myself," he said. "I look at myself in the mirror and tell myself, 'Hey, you gave it your all today.' If I went 0-for-4, it happens. So a good day on the field is going 110 percent, working hard, running everything out and doing things the right way. So I'm not going to change that aspect at all."

Werth on target for Tuesday return to Nats

STL@WSH: Werth drills a solo home run in the eighth

ATLANTA -- Plans for Jayson Werth's rehab took a detour on Saturday. But this time, that was a good thing.

Manager Davey Johnson had said on Saturday that Werth was going to play nine innings for the Class A Potomac Nationals. But the plan changed and instead, Werth played five innings, going 2-for-3, scoring a run, and making all three plays in the field. The goal of playing a full nine innings shifted to Sunday.

Werth made the most of his final rehab start, going 2-for-4 with a walk, blasting a pair of home runs, driving in six runs and scoring three times. Werth hit .556 (10-for-18) with a 1.544 OPS in six rehab games with Potomac.

"He must have really been feeling frisky," said Johnson following Sunday afternoon's 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. "So he'll be ready to carry us on his shoulders, I'm sure. The offense needs perking up. But I think we're going to get Jayson back [Tuesday]. That's going to be a shot in the arm."

Ideally, Werth will return to the lineup on Tuesday when Washington hosts the New York Mets, playing his first game since April 29 in Atlanta.

Werth, is hitting .260 with four homers and 10 RBIs for the Nationals this season.

Worth noting

• Washington's streak of series with at least one home run was extended in Sunday's finale with the Braves when Ian Desmond went deep in the sixth inning. The Nationals have gone yard at least once in 75 consecutive series, the longest current streak in the Majors. The last time they went without a homer in a series was Sept. 12-15, 2011, a four-game set against the Mets at Citi Field.

• Johnson made a couple of lineup changes for Sunday, starting Tyler Moore in right field and Jhonatan Solano behind the plate. Moore batted sixth, while Solano hit eighth.