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Nationals won’t bring up hot prospect Harper this season

The Texas Rangers’ Josh Hamilton plans to take it easy during his minor league rehab assignment. (Associated Press)
The Texas Rangers’ Josh Hamilton plans to take it easy during his minor league rehab assignment. (Associated Press)

Bryce Harper won’t be hitting the major leagues this year, no matter how much he tears up minor league pitching.

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Wednesday that Harper will not be called up to the big club in 2011, even after rosters are expanded in September.

“We feel that his development is not ready to play in the big leagues,” Rizzo said, reiterating comments he made in spring training.

“The moment he’s ready and we believe he’s ready, he’ll be in the big leagues – if he’s earned it and is ready to play in the big leagues and to stay in the big leagues.”

Harper is hitting .366 with nine home runs, 31 RBIs and six stolen bases for Class-A Hagerstown. The 18-year-old slugger and last year’s No. 1 overall draft pick has been especially dominant since getting new contact lenses.

“We like the adjustments he’s made at the plate, first of all. We like the adjustments he’s made specifically against left-handed pitching, which were points of emphasis going into Hagerstown,” Rizzo said.

Hamilton takes cautious approach

Reigning A.L. MVP Josh Hamilton plans to be careful during his minor league rehab assignment, a scheduled five-game stint that could lead to him rejoining the Texas Rangers early next week.

Hamilton was sent to Double-A Frisco (Texas) to begin rehab as a designated hitter. An examination earlier in the day by team physician Dr. Keith Meister showed “significant healing” in the broken bone in the slugger’s upper right arm.

“For the next five games, yes, I want to be careful before I get back,” Hamilton said. “If I get on first, I’m not going to get much of a lead. I’m not going to be diving back, and I’m not doing any stolen bases.”

Around the league

Boston Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka could miss a month with a sprained ligament in his pitching elbow, marking the third straight season he’ll be out for quite a while. Boston manager Terry Francona said it will be two weeks before Matsuzaka is examined again. … A Giants fan who was brutally beaten on opening day at Dodger Stadium is opening his eyes but remains in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital, the medical center’s chief neurosurgeon said. Bryan Stow has been weaned off one of five anti-seizure medications since arriving Monday from a Los Angeles hospital where he had been in a coma after being attacked in March, Dr. Geoff Manley said.