Hairston eyeing July 18 return to Nats' lineup

Hairston eyeing July 18 return to Nats' lineup

WASHINGTON -- Jerry Hairston Jr. is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list during the All-Star break, but the Nationals' utility player is targeting a July 18 return in the series opener in Houston.

Hairston, who broke his wrist when he was hit by a Dan Haren pitch June 29, took dry swings for the first time Sunday after fielding ground balls and throwing from shortstop Saturday.

He plans to hit off of a tee and take batting practice Wednesday, have a full workout Thursday, then play the first of two or three rehab games Friday.

"Throwing the ball is not really an issue or problem," Hairston said. "Swinging a bat, being in the fire and trying to swing it 100 mph, that's going to be the biggest test. I'll know more after I play in a couple games."

Hairston will tape his wrist and cover it with a pad -- something he is still getting used to -- but will not wear anything obtrusive or uncomfortable. The biggest obstacle to overcome will be generating power in his swing.

"It's a difficult injury because we do everything with our hands -- hitting, throwing and fielding," Hairston said. "I have to be careful with it, but when I'm back, I'll be back.

"I don't want to go just out there and play, I want to be productive. We're at a point in the second half of the season where we feel like we have a legit chance, and I don't want to harm us in any way. When I come back, I definitely want to be productive."