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Bryce Harper will take light swings and start playing catch next week when the Nationals return home. Harper has been sidelined since April 26 with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb.

"He'll be able to grip, he'll be able to do some small things, but he's not going to be on the field taking [batting practice] the first day," Williams said. "It's a process. I think he's getting close though. I know he's itching and I know he's getting close to starting to get the baseball stuff going. With his youth, that won't take long anyway. We just want to make sure it is healed and good before he starts that."

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Bryce Harper will take light swings and start playing catch next week when the Nationals return home. Harper has been sidelined since April 26 with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb.

"He'll be able to grip, he'll be able to do some small things, but he's not going to be on the field taking [batting practice] the first day," Williams said. "It's a process. I think he's getting close though. I know he's itching and I know he's getting close to starting to get the baseball stuff going. With his youth, that won't take long anyway. We just want to make sure it is healed and good before he starts that."

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• Gio Gonzalez is listed as Wednesday's starter for the Nationals when they host the Astros in an Interleague game. Gonzalez will be making his first start since going on the 15-day disabled list on May 18 with an inflamed left shoulder.

Gonzalez had a 10.57 ERA in two Minor League rehab starts, but he was much more effective in the second start Thursday, giving up one run over four innings and striking out seven.

• Triple-A Syracuse pounded Norfolk, 10-1, on Friday. Zach Walters hit a home run, his fourth in as many games, and drove in five runs. Steven Souza Jr. had a homer and drove in four to lead the Chiefs. Aaron Laffey improved to 8-3, giving up a run over seven innings and striking out four.

Joe Harris is a contributor to MLB.com.

Washington Nationals