Sep 3, 2013, 10:11 AM EDT
PHILADELPHIA — Anybody watching Bryce Harper during Monday night’s 3-2 loss to the Phillies could tell the Nationals outfielder was less than 100 percent healthy. Harper took awkward swings, he labored to get down the first-base line and he gingerly took his position in the field between innings.
In the middle of the third inning, shortly after Harper limped down the line on a groundout to second base, Jayson Werth brought his teammate’s cap and glove out to the field for him. Werth, though, withheld Harper’s equipment for several seconds, appearing to seek some confirmation first that Harper felt well enough to continue playing.
Harper did finish out the game, going 1-for-3 with a key walk in the top of the eighth. But Davey Johnson revealed afterward his young outfielder indeed is dealing with a hip injury, an ailment the veteran manager only learned of Monday night.
“I was a little disturbed that I wasn’t informed that he was having some treatment on his hip,” Johnson said. “But every time anybody talks to Harp, he says: ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine.’ So I’m going to stick with him.”
Harper, as he’s done in the past when playing through some kind of pain, insisted this injury isn’t significant.
“I’m fine,” he said. “Just like I told [Johnson]: If I was hurting, I’d come out of the game. I feel good.”
Harper’s play didn’t appear to be significantly impacted by the ailment. He singled off Cole Hamels in the sixth, drew a key, five-pitch walk off lefty Cesar Jimenez in the eighth and had no issues in the field.
Even if it didn’t translate into anything on the field, Johnson seemed less-than-pleased his young star didn’t speak up sooner about his condition.
Asked if he wished Harper would have spoken up about the injury, Johnson replied: “Yeah, but he still had a heck of a ballgame. Had a walk, a base hit. But I’m more concerned about him being available the next day when I have some options. But he’s a tough kid. That’s the way he is.”
In all likelihood, Harper hasn’t played 100 percent healthy since late-April, when he first injured himself crashing into the chain-link fence in Atlanta trying to rob a home run. Three weeks later, he banged his knee against the wall at Dodger Stadium, ultimately landing on the disabled list with bursitis that could require offseason surgery.
Through it all, Harper has remained a productive player. He enters Tuesday with a .278 batting average, 19 homers, 20 doubles, a .381 on-base percentage and .514 slugging percentage. He remains a few plate appearances shy of qualifying for the league leaderboard, but he would currently rank 10th in the NL with an .895 OPS.
“We’ve got a month left,” he said. “I’m going to play as hard as I can and just worry about it at the end.”
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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