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Pregame Notes: Bryce Harper, Dee Gordon, & Dodgers On The Mend

It was a crowded Nationals dugout before Saturday's game.
It was a crowded Nationals dugout before Saturday's game.

Before Saturday night's game with the Washington Nationals, here is an update on some ailing Dodgers.

Juan Rivera took part in some light running and stretching drills, then batting practice before the game tonight. He feels he'll be ready to play on Sunday. Manager Don Mattingly said that was a possibility, depending on how Rivera was evaluated after batting practice, and that Rivera might be able to pinch hit tonight.

Todd Coffey is eligible to come off the disabled list on Sunday, but the Dodgers might wait until Monday to activate Coffey. If they wait until Monday, it gives the bullpen a genuine long man Sunday if needed in Nathan Eovaldi.

"He's looking like he's going to be ready," Mattingly said of Coffey. "We're going to talk about it a little bit though. If we did anything at all, it would be one day, but I want to talk to him first."

Another reliever, Matt Guerrier, is eligible to come off the disabled list Friday, but he won't be ready by then. Guerrier threw today for the first time since being placed on the disabled list on April 24, but it was really just lightly playing catch. The Dodgers will probably be cautious with Guerrier, whose elbow inflammation essentially eliminated him from back-to-back duty when he was active.

"I'd rather this guy be right when he comes back and not just, 'I can get back out there and not quite sure how it's going to feel the next day'," said Mattingly. "We want to have this guy for the long haul, so we want to get him back to where he has a better chance of staying healthy."

Ronald Belisario, still serving his 25-game suspension for violating the MLB Joint Drug Agreement, will start for Rancho Cucamonga tonight in Lake Elsinore. Belisario could pitch two innings tonight, then is expected to continue his rehab assignment with back-to-back games in Albuquerque next week. Belisario needs to be activated on the Thursday off day, and is eligible to pitch as soon as Friday in Chicago. "He's on track," Mattingly said.

Gordon Struggling

Dee Gordon is hitting .224/.268/.263 on the season, but Mattingly has no plans to move his leadoff hitter down in the batting order, at least not yet.

"I could think about it, but then I have to find a guy who leads off," said Mattingly. "At this point, I don't feel like I have to do anything different. We've been able to sustain what we're doing, and keep riding this thing."

Mattingly said he may give Gordon a few days off here and there but has no permanent changes in mind. That said, Mattingly knows his shortstop has been scuffling at the plate.

"I didn't think it looked very good yesterday. He has struggled against lefties, and we've seen quite a few of them," Mattingly said. "With Dee, this is all part of it. This is part of his growing up."

Harper Arrives

There were so many people in the Nationals dugout waiting to see a 19-year old make his major league debut that longtime baseball man and Nationals manager Davey Johnson was taken aback.

"I had a pretty good pitcher break in in New York named Dwight Gooden and I don't remember seeing this many cameras," Johnson said.

Harper spoke to reporters for roughly 10 minutes and though he gave mostly cliched answers his confidence was evident. Harper eschewed the cliches briefly when, after he said he was just here to "shut up and play ball," he was asked to explain why that hasn't always been the case in his career.

"If you mess with my team, I'm going to come right back at you. That's how it will always be and I will leave it at that," he said.

Harper called today a very exciting time but said he wasn't really nervous, and had his teammates to thank for that.

"Being able to be around the guys who have had their opening days, being able to talk to them has been able to calm me down, along with having Davey as my manager," Harper said.

Mattingly, who saw Harper play while managing in the Arizona Fall League in 2010, had high praise for the Nationals left fielder.

"This kid seems like he's been playing above his head for a long time. He's one of those guys, like Ken Griffey Jr., who was tearing it up at age 19. Some guys are just different."

Starting Lineups

Nationals Dodgers
SS Desmond SS Gordon
3B Lombardozzi LF Gwynn
RF Werth CF Kemp
1B LaRoche RF Ethier
CF Ankiel 2B Hairston
2B Espinosa 1B Loney
LF Harper 3B Uribe
C Ramos C Ellis
P Strasburg P Billingsley

Game Time: 6:10 p.m.

TV: Prime Ticket, MLB Network

MLB Gameday