HOU@WSH: Harper chats about being Rookie of the Year

VIERA, Fla. -- Bryce Harper got the day off Wednesday to rest his sore left thumb, but he hopes to play in the Nationals' exhibition game Friday in Washington, if not sooner.

The outfielder, who has twice been jammed on inside pitches in the last week, is hitting .476 this spring with three homers, 14 RBIs and a remarkable 1.238 OPS in 23 Grapefruit League games.

He originally jammed the thumb in an at-bat Friday against the Tigers, and he re-aggravated the soreness on Tuesday against the Marlins. Manager Davey Johnson suggested on Tuesday that he'd rest Harper for a day or two.

"When I woke up this morning, it felt fine," Harper said. "Yesterday it kind of got me a little bit. I thought it was going to be a lot worse when I woke up this morning, and it wasn't. If I was in the lineup today, I could play."

Harper didn't take batting practice on Wednesday and planned to get more treatment, but he felt accomplished with his 67 at-bats already this spring. That said, he hopes to play Friday at Nationals Park against the Yankees before having some time off Saturday and Sunday before Monday's regular-season opener against the Marlins.

"I don't think it's gonna hold me down or anything. I have a pretty high pain tolerance," Harper said. "I had it in Hagerstown my first year, and it was a lot worse."

Harper, last year's National League Rookie of the Year, said he doesn't believe at this point that it will be an issue that lingers long into the regular season. He hasn't been checked out by the team doctors, though Johnson has said before that he may be. Harper said he'll wear a thumb guard during batting practice, and he may also wear it during games.

"It doesn't seem to be that bad to that point," Harper said of any long-term consequences. "Hopefully it doesn't get to that point. But I don't see it getting to that point at all."

Detwiler embraces rest before first start of season

HOU@WSH: Detwiler on preparing, returning to team

VIERA, Fla. -- Perhaps for once, Ross Detwiler can consider himself lucky for all the strange layoffs he's endured recently and in his career. Because he's got another one coming.

After the lefty finished up his day of work Wednesday against Atlanta -- two runs on eight hits (two homers), two strikeouts and one walk in 5 1/3 innings -- he began to get set for a nine-day break before he pitches next, April 6 against the Reds.

"Just going to roll with it," Detwiler said. "Got a few days off. Enjoy the festivities. They're going to call my name on Opening Day, and I'm going to run out in line. That's about as far as we've gotten."

Detwiler began last season as a starter before a six-outing stint in the bullpen from May 30-June 19. He was back in the rotation by the end of June and finished the year there. His spot was never in doubt this spring.

"I'm not feeling different at all," Detwiler said. "I know I'm not going to be sitting down in right field. I'll be in the dugout. That's about it."

Detwiler's also had experience with long layoffs this spring, when his schedule was thrown out of whack thanks to the World Baseball Classic. He started camp in Viera, traveled to Arizona to join Team USA (where he made one appearance out of the bullpen) before flying with the team to Miami. Once the Americans were eliminated, he rejoined the Nats, going seven days between outings.

He'll throw a few side sessions before his first start of the regular season.

"I think that's going to feed into this quite a bit," Detwiler said of his past experiences. "I didn't get stretched out at all last year, and going to the WBC and everything I didn't get that great of a chance to get stretched out [this year]. I think I missed 2-3 starts here. So I think that's definitely going to help."

Worth noting

• Stephen Strasburg went over to the Nationals' Minor League complex on Wednesday morning for his final tuneup before Opening Day, facing Triple-A hitters. He threw five innings, allowing five hits and no runs while striking out five. He did not walk a batter, throwing 72 pitches.

Catcher Kurt Suzuki came along to catch the beginning of the outing, before Jhonatan Solano took over.

Strasburg will be the first Nationals pitcher to start back-to-back Opening Days since John Lannan in 2009-10. In last year's season opener in Chicago, the Nats ace scattered one run and five hits over seven innings while striking out five and taking the no-decision before the Nationals went on to beat the Cubs, 2-1.

• Catcher Carlos Maldonado and left-hander Fernando Abad were reassigned to Minor League camp on Wednesday, and utility men Carlos Rivero and Micah Owings will join them Thursday, Johnson said. J.C. Romero was told that he'd be making the trip to Washington for Friday's exhibition, but nothing certain beyond that has been outlined.

• Ryan Zimmerman belted three home runs on Wednesday afternoon. He's never had a three-homer game in 990 career regular-season Major League contests.

Wilson Ramos also hit his first two homers of the spring, a solo shot in the third and a three-run homer in the fourth.

"After working hard with my knee, now I can concentrate a little more on my offense and my swing," Ramos said. "I've forgotten about my knee now, so I can work on my offense and my defense, too. For a long time I worked with my knee only and forgot a little bit about my offense and my swing. But now it's time to work all together, and it feels good at the plate now."

• Outfielder Jayson Werth was hit by a pitch on his left elbow in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Johnson said it was nothing to worry about. Werth said it hit him on his "not-so-funny bone."

• Johnson said right-hander Christian Garcia, recovering from a right wrist/forearm issue, is on track to throw on Monday. Johnson still hopes that Garcia will be stretched out to be a starter.

"I like his stuff," Johnson said. "The safe plan would be to go back to relieving. But a big, strong guy like him, with his arsenal, it would be kind of wasting him."