8/15/2014 12:51 A.M. ET
Williams: Harper's thumb getting stronger
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Since coming back from his left thumb injury on June 30, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is 30-for-129 (.233) with five home runs and 12 RBIs, and 48 strikeouts in 38 games. However, he feels his swing is coming along.
In the last week, for example, he has hit three home runs, all against the Mets. The third home run, which came during Thursday's 4-1 victory against New York, gave an indication that he is getting his strength back.
In the fourth inning, Harper hit a mammoth home run over the right-center-field wall, a two-run shot, to make it a 4-0 game. He swung the bat free and easy and hit the ball a long way to right field. The other two home runs against New York were opposite-field shots.
"His strength is coming back, and if he gets a ball that is in a little bit, sometimes it hurts him. He feels it for a day or so, but that is part of the process coming back from that," manager Matt Williams said. "He is getting stronger by the day. He is seeing it better. It probably starts with strength. If you feel good about it, then you are able to stay back and wait for the ball a little bit, let it travel, and he has been doing that."
Harper, who also struck out twice in his 1-for-4 night Thursday, said the home run swing was the best he felt all year.
"It was pitch I could handle over the plate. I was lucky enough to put it over the fence for two runs," Harper said.
Asdrubal focused on helping Nats, not free agency
NEW YORK -- Nationals second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera has been productive at the plate and with the glove since he joined the team in a trade from the Indians nearly two weeks ago.
Cabrera, who hit the game-winning home run and made a nice catch while going into the stands at Citi Field in a 3-2 Nationals victory on Wednesday, will be a free agent after the season. He is not sure what he plans to do, and he would like to continue to play shortstop, the position he played while with Cleveland, though he realizes that teams could ask him to play second base.
"I don't know if I want to stay here or not. There's nothing I can do. I just have to see after the season and wait," Cabrera said. "I like to play short. That's the position I like to play more. I'm just going to see who wants me to play short, who wants me to play second, and figure it out from there."
If the Nationals win the 2014 World Series, would that influence Cabrera to stay with the Nationals beyond 2014?
"Yeah. That's why I'm here. I'm here to help this team make the playoffs. After that, get to the World Series," Cabrera said. "There is nothing better than being in that situation."
Manager Matt Williams is satisfied in what Cabrera has done so far.
"I think he has done well," Williams said. "It's hard when you switch leagues, when you don't know the pitching. It's especially difficult when you are switching positions and going from the other side of the infield, learning teammates and having a little pressure on you because the team traded for you. I think he has handled all that really well. He is a pro. He has been around the block."
Cabrera said his new teammates are making it special to play with the Nationals.
"I feel pretty comfortable," he said.
Werth could return to action during Pirates series
NEW YORK -- A day after getting a cortisone shot, Jayson Werth told manager Matt Williams that his right shoulder felt a lot better Thursday.
While he was not available for the Mets series, Werth might come off the bench for the Pirates series starting Friday at Nationals Park. Williams said there is a possibility that Werth could start Saturday night at Nationals Park.
"He said today he feels a lot better," Williams said. "He said he is about 50 percent better, so that is a good sign. It means the anti-inflammatory medication is working. We'll see what he looks like [Friday]. Potentially, we could give him some work, let him start swinging."
Clippard: Manfred is 'right fit' for Commissioner
NEW YORK -- Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard, one of the club's player representatives, said Rob Manfred is "the right fit" to become the 10th Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
Clippard said he sat down with Manfred during collective bargaining in 2011, and he was impressed by what he saw from the Commissioner-elect.
"He has been in the game a long time. He knows the ins and outs of bargaining and how the business is run," Clippard said about Manfred. "I don't have a lot of knowledge about what his job is going to entail, but it seems to be the right fit."
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.