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Harper back in Nats lineup after hit by pitch

Slugger left Saturday's contest with leg stinger; Mamie Johnson Little League team plays Sunday
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- A day after he was hit with a pitch just below the right kneecap, Bryce Harper was back in the Nationals' lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Reds. Harper texted manager Dave Martinez on Sunday morning to tell him he felt good enough to start in center field.

"Huge relief," Martinez said. "That doesn't tickle. I've got hit there before and he must be a little bit tougher than I am because I limped to first base and told them get me out the game."

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WASHINGTON -- A day after he was hit with a pitch just below the right kneecap, Bryce Harper was back in the Nationals' lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Reds. Harper texted manager Dave Martinez on Sunday morning to tell him he felt good enough to start in center field.

"Huge relief," Martinez said. "That doesn't tickle. I've got hit there before and he must be a little bit tougher than I am because I limped to first base and told them get me out the game."

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It didn't take long for Harper to make his presence felt. With two runners in scoring position in the third, Harper stepped to the plate against Reds starter Luis Castillo. Harper looped a 1-2 pitch down the left-field line for an RBI double, plating the Nats' second run in a 2-1 win

Harper was hit by an 82-mph curveball from reliever Austin Brice in the sixth inning of Saturday night's 6-2 victory. After spending a few moments on the ground, Harper eventually walked to first base and finished the half-inning before he attempted to play right field. Harper limped gingerly toward a double in the gap, however, and he was removed from the game to not risk further injury.

Video: CIN@WSH: Harper gets HBP on right leg, later exits

So, the Nats can breathe a sigh of relief, especially considering Harper has started to heat up. In the 14 games since the All-Star break, he is batting .356/.483/.667 with three home runs and 13 RBIs.

Nats support Mamie Johnson Little League
The Mamie Johnson Little League squad played its first Mid-Atlantic regional game on Sunday morning, after winning D.C.'s 12-under Little League championship game last week. Televisions throughout the Nationals' clubhouse broadcast the game, causing several players to stop and watch as they prepared for the finale vs. the Reds.

Tweet from @Nationals: Let���s go @MJLLinDC...Time for a rally! The #Nats clubhouse is pulling for ya. pic.twitter.com/BvY6rvG14b

Mamie Johnson dropped its opening game against the New York state champions, but several Nats players have thrown their support to the local team -- the first all-African American team to win the D.C. Little League 12-U championship in the game's 31-year history.

On Thursday, the kids from the team were invited to a pregame ceremony at Nationals Park and to tour their clubhouse.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper