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Harper takes next step in recovery by running

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper continues to progress as he aims to return to the Nationals in time for the postseason. The latest step came on the warning track at Nationals Park prior to Thursday's game against the Braves.

Harper ran from foul pole to foul pole along the outfield as the club took batting practice, at times sprinting and testing his injured left knee perhaps as intensely as he has since he landed on the disabled list last month. Harper also proceeded to play catch along with a team trainer.

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WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper continues to progress as he aims to return to the Nationals in time for the postseason. The latest step came on the warning track at Nationals Park prior to Thursday's game against the Braves.

Harper ran from foul pole to foul pole along the outfield as the club took batting practice, at times sprinting and testing his injured left knee perhaps as intensely as he has since he landed on the disabled list last month. Harper also proceeded to play catch along with a team trainer.

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The steps of improvement have been small but still encouraging for the Nationals, as they hope to have their National League Most Valuable Player Award candidate back for the postseason. On Wednesday, Washington manager Dusty Baker said Harper had started hitting off a tee and soft toss, and Baker hoped Harper would ramp up his hitting soon.

Video: WSH@MIA: Harper does light catch, throwing in field

Harper has not played since Aug. 12, when he hyperextended his left knee, sustaining a significant bone bruise and straining his calf trying to beat out a grounder at first base.

The Nationals have approximately three weeks before the start of the NL Division Series, and they are still encouraged that Harper will be ready for Game 1.

Worth noting

Stephen Drew has recently participated in baseball activities, taking ground balls and batting practice as he tries to work his way back from an abdominal strain. Although Drew is hoping to potentially return this season, Baker said "it would be a miracle if he had time to come back."

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

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper