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Bryce Harper reportedly ‘likely’ to return by October

Bryce Harper continues to make significant progress in rehab and reportedly is “likely” to return to the Washington Nationals in time for postseason play.

Harper on Tuesday took part in a simulated game in Atlanta that included facing live pitching, which came two days after taking batting practice for the first time since his Aug. 12 knee injury. Harper also did some running of the bases and fielded some grounders.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo preached patience, although he did say it’s “conceivable” Harper could return to the Nationals lineup before the end or the regular season.

“Our No. 1 goal is to have him feel healthy,” Rizzo said, via MLB.com. “We want him to be instinctual on the field and not have him thinking about his legs at all. We want him to be 100 percent and let his talents take over to where he doesn’t have to think about it.”

Nationals manager Dusty Baker was encouraged by Harper’s performance.

“It went well. He moved well. He ran pretty good,” Baker said Tuesday, via The Washington Post. “His timing was off a little, but not too bad … we’ll just have to see how he feels tomorrow. Tomorrow’s the key.”

All indications are that Harper —  who is expected to participate in another workout Wednesday — will be ready in time of the National League Division Series, which begins on Oct. 6.

“I hope so. That’s definitely in my head,” Harper said Sunday. “That’s what I want to do. That’s where I want to be. But it takes time. [I’m] just trying to do the best I can to get out here and do the things I can to get back and get ready, and see where it’s at.”

Harper has been out with a hyper-extended left knee suffered when he slipped on first base. Subsequent reports indicated a “significant bone bruise” occurred during the base-running accident as well.

Harper was batting .325 with 29 home runs and 87 RBI at the time of the injury. While the Nationals (91-59, 20.5 lead in NL Easst) have fared well in Harper’s absence, the superstar slugger’s return couldn’t come soon enough.

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