Sore thumb doesn't hold Harper back vs. Braves

Sore thumb doesn't hold Harper back vs. Braves

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper said his right thumb is still sore, but he was in the starting lineup against the Braves on Sunday afternoon. In fact, he took two sets of batting practice on Sunday without any problems.

Harper hurt the thumb on Friday, when he singled to right field in the fourth inning against Detroit left-hander Drew Smyly. The thumb started to swell, and manager Davey Johnson took him out of the game.

"I'm good to go [on Sunday]," Harper said.

During batting practice, Harper was wearing a rubber thumb guard to prevent him from feeling a sting in case he was jammed by a pitch. But during the game, Harper didn't wear the rubber guard and went 3-for-3 with a run scored.

"I can't wear it. I'll wear it during BP and in the on-deck circle. But going to the plate, I don't like the feeling, so I'm not going to use it," Harper said. "… I really didn't feel it. It's a case of squaring a ball up and not getting jammed. If you don't get jammed, you are not going to feel it."

Harper has been a hot hitter this spring, going 25-for-58 (.431) with three home runs and 12 RBIs. But Harper was humble when talking about his success during the Grapefruit League season.

"It's Spring Training," Harper said. "Everybody is going to get better toward the whole season. It's just trying to have good ABs every single day, and really trying to square things up."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for 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.