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Refreshed Harper returns to Nationals

MLB.com @JamalCollier

OAKLAND -- Bryce Harper spent the past few days at his home in Las Vegas, trying to relax and enjoy time with his family. It felt odd, he said, to be at home around the end of May and he was certainly glad to be back to cooler weather after temperatures climbed over 100 degrees Saturday in Las Vegas.

And Harper was happy to return to the Nationals lineup for Sunday's series finale against the A's after serving his three-game suspension for charging the mound and throwing his helmet at Giants right-hander Hunter Strickland after he was hit by a pitch Monday.

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OAKLAND -- Bryce Harper spent the past few days at his home in Las Vegas, trying to relax and enjoy time with his family. It felt odd, he said, to be at home around the end of May and he was certainly glad to be back to cooler weather after temperatures climbed over 100 degrees Saturday in Las Vegas.

And Harper was happy to return to the Nationals lineup for Sunday's series finale against the A's after serving his three-game suspension for charging the mound and throwing his helmet at Giants right-hander Hunter Strickland after he was hit by a pitch Monday.

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Harper wanted to finish the appeal process and serve his suspension as quickly as possible, especially so he could be ready for the start of a three-game series with the National League West-leading Dodgers that begins Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

"I wanted to be in the lineup as quick as possible," Harper said Sunday. "And I think getting it done and not really letting it linger. I want to play at home, of course, and don't want to linger into L.A. It's a big series down in L.A. we got, so trying to get it done as quick as possible, get it out of the way."

The Nationals won two of the three games Harper missed, but they are glad to have their MVP candidate back in the middle of the lineup.

Perhaps the time away could also serve as a refresher for Harper, who has struggled a bit lately. He hit .156 (7-for-45) with 13 strikeouts in 12 games prior to the suspension, as his average dropped from .388 to .328.

"I really just tried to hang out with my nieces and nephews and relax a little bit," Harper said. "Mentally decompress a little bit and get back here and try to help the team win the best I can."

Jayson Werth missed the Nats' 11-10 victory in Sunday's series finale, after fouling a ball off his foot during an at-bat in the ninth inning the day prior. X-rays were negative but Werth was on crutches with a walking boot in the clubhouse after Sunday's game.

"That's the same toe he fouled the ball off a month ago," manager Dusty Baker said. "And I think he missed two or three games then. ... It's not looking good for now."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper