Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - NL EAST - Con­tribut­ing: Wire re­ports

The Na­tion­als have spent much of the sea­son with a big lead in the Na­tional League East, so much of the fo­cus has been on get­ting as many of their in­jured play­ers as pos­si­ble healthy for Oc­to­ber.

The re­cent news hasn’t been en­cour­ag­ing.

Right fielder Bryce Harper, who hasn’t played since suf­fer­ing a hy­per­ex­tended left knee Aug. 12, might be the big­gest con­cern. As re­cently as the last week of Au­gust, Harper hadn’t been able to start run­ning.

While the Na­tion­als have re­mained hope­ful Harper will re­turn, he said the cal­en­dar isn’t work­ing in his fa­vor.

“I think it’s go­ing to take some time to get go­ing, of course,” Harper said. “We don’t have much.”

In­fielder Stephen Drew is also bat­tling the cal­en­dar. Drew strained a lower ab­dom­i­nal mus­cle in late July, and it looks as if he even­tu­ally will need surgery. The ques­tion is how much he’ll be able to play be­fore that.

“I’m try­ing to fig­ure out if I can play with it, to get it to where the pain is not too much,” Drew said. “If not, I might have to go an­other route and miss the rest of the sea­son.”

The Na­tion­als had a health con­cern al­layed when pitcher

Stephen Stras­burg re­turned from the dis­abled list with three starts in which he al­lowed two runs in 21 in­nings. The best came Aug. 30, when he threw a six-hit, com­plete-game shutout vs. the Mar­lins and hit a home run.

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