PHILADELPHIA — Bryce Harper has returned to the Washington Nationals’ lineup after missing 42 games with a knee injury.

The star slugger was activated from the 10-day disabled list before Tuesday night’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies. He started in right field and batted second, going 0 for 2 with a walk before he was removed in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“He’s like a kid on the first day of Little League today,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said before the game. “He’s excited. We’re excited. We’re just going to be a conscience for him on when he has had enough or needs more.”

Harper hyperextended and bruised his left knee while slipping on first base during a rainy game Aug. 12.

The five-time All-Star and 2015 NL MVP originally was expected to return Monday in the series opener. That was delayed because he had flu-like symptoms.

“I’m pain-free. I wouldn’t be out there playing now or playing in the postseason,” Harper said. “It’s something where if I weren’t pain-free, I would see you guys next year.”

The NL East champion Nationals will open a best-of-five Division Series at home on Oct. 6.


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