Washington Nationals outfielder and reigning NL Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper has given Washington fans a scare after leaving last night's 2-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves, with what apparently looked like an oblique injury, but in fact was a result of a play Harper tried to make on Tuesday night, says James Wagner of the Washington Post.
Harper seemed to have hurt himself during an at-bat against Paul Maholm, when he checked his swing and grimaced in pain, leading to fears that he had hurt his oblique. It turned out that Tuesday's play where Harper attempted to stop Tim Hudson's home run from going over the fence was the source of the problem, as Harper had scraped his left side against the outfield wall in a vain attempt to pull the ball back and had suffered a fairly serious bruise. A later 'relieved' Davey Johnson said he didn't want to gamble on Harper getting a more serious injury:
“He didn’t want to come out of the ballgame but I saw him grimacing and I was concerned about him playing,” Johnson said. “We couldn’t take a chance on it. He could pull a lat or something and he could be out for a long time.”
Harper had the contusion iced after the game and was due to receive medication. The young superstar was naturally eager to get back in the lineup as soon as possible:
“If I can play [Thursday], I’m gonna play,” Harper said. “If they put me in the lineup, I’m gonna play. I can play with pain and I can tolerate pain, so hopefully there’s nothing that can keep me out of that lineup. . . . Hopefully I can come in and feel like a million bucks and play.”
There's no indication from the team as to whether Harper is likely to need more time to let the bruise heal. The Nationals are struggling offensively now and Harper is one of the few bright spots; the Nationals' OPS+ of 90 is tied for just 23rd in MLB, after they had been expected to be one of the most potent hitting forces. Roger Bernadina came into the game in Harper's place. Bernadina is a capable fourth outfielder, performing well as a part-time player last year with a .291/.372/.405 line in 261 plate appearances.
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