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Harper OK, in the lineup for finale with Atlanta

Harper OK, in the lineup for finale with Atlanta

ATLANTA -- Bryce Harper didn't want to come out of Wednesday night's game, a 2-0 victory over the Braves at Turner Field, and he certainly didn't want to sit out Thursday's series finale.

He got his wish, starting in left field and batting in his customary third spot in the order.

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He's back in full swing -- or at least he'd better be, according to Nationals manager Davey Johnson.

"It's check-swinging," said Johnson with a laugh when asked about concerns over Harper's swing. "He said he wanted to go, and I said, 'Don't check your swing.' He has no broken ribs or anything from the crash into the wall [on Tuesday]. We need him in the lineup."

Harper left Wednesday's game following his at-bat in the top of the sixth inning. He winced and reached for his side after a check swing on an 0-1 pitch in the dirt from Atlanta starter Paul Maholm. He then ripped a one-hop smash to first base on the next pitch for an out but would not take the field in the bottom of the inning.

X-rays taken on Thursday morning showed nothing broken, and he iced the area and underwent some ultrasound to get ready.

"The doctor said it was a very bad bruise and took the x-ray to be precautionary," said Johnson. "He's young, strong. He didn't want to come out [on Wednesday night] when I took him out. I had to fight him on that. So I wasn't going to have that same battle today when he said he was good to go.

"He might have taken it personally. So I said, 'I'll give you Monday off.'"

The Nationals have an off-day on Monday prior to hosting the Tigers on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Harper originally hurt himself in the bottom of the fourth inning on Tuesday night, when he crashed into the wall in right field trying to rob Braves pitcher Tim Hudson of a home run.

But he would not be robbed of an opportunity to play on Thursday as the Nats sought to leave Atlanta with a series split.

"Just my swing, that's the biggest movement I need to worry about," Harper said prior to batting practice. "Throwing-wise, it doesn't feel [bad]. Just rotating. We'll see how it feels.

"It's not to the point where I can really feel it. I don't see why I wouldn't be [in the lineup] unless I feel it in BP, and then I probably won't play. I don't see it being my oblique or anything like that. It's more inside my rib area than it is my oblique."

He also showed he'd learned a little something.

"So maybe I shouldn't run into walls," he said.

Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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