Sep 4, 2013, 6:14 PM EDT
PHILADELPHIA — Bryce Harper finally admitted Wednesday his ailing left hip is bothering him, so manager Davey Johnson gave his young outfielder the night off.
Harper, though, also admitted he hasn’t been close to 100 percent healthy for the vast majority of this season, certainly not since he collided with the right field wall in Atlanta on April 30 and bruised his left ribcage.
“Ever since I hit the wall, pretty much every day I feel something different,” Harper said prior to the Nationals’ series finale against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. “Or something will feel better, and then something else hurts. It’s pretty much just the left side of my body. That’s what hurts me right now. Everything on the right side of my body feels great. If the right side of my body felt like the left side of my body, I’d probably just say: Screw it. But the last time I probably felt pretty good was that first month.”
This has been a season full of bumps and bruises for the 20-year-old star, some more serious than others. Another collision with the wall at Dodger Stadium on May 13 left Harper with bursitis in his left knee and led to a five-week stint on the disabled list.
But the minor, nagging injuries like the bruised ribcage, a bruised left foot or his current sore hip have taken their toll on Harper as well, resulting in a season of somewhat unfulfilled promise (even though Harper currently owns a higher batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS than he posted last year as a rookie).
“It’s been tough,” Johnson said. “I know he missed 31 games during that stretch and then struggled when he came back because of his knee. He’s still awful young and he’s still learning the league and pitchers. This is an important time for him. It’s a shame that he hasn’t been 100 percent healthy.”
Harper’s latest hip ailment has bothered him for several days, though Harper didn’t finally acknowledge the injury to his manager until Wednesday, despite the fact he had been receiving medical treatment and at times appeared to be limping on the bases.
When Johnson spotted Harper in the trainer’s room again, he put his young outfielder on the spot.
“I know you want to play. And you know I want you to play,” Johnson said. “But is it bad? Is it barking?’
Harper admitted it was, so Johnson informed him he’d be getting the night off.
The give-and-take between player and manager, and the need to speak up at times, remains a work-in-progress for Harper.
“I can play through pretty much anything,” he said. “If it hurts me more than I want it to hurt me, or if I can’t swing or I can’t help my team that night, then I’m not going to be in the lineup. I can play through pretty much anything that I can tolerate, but if it hurts me more than I want it to, then I tell Davey and he’ll take consideration into that and sit me for a night.”
Johnson was pleased Harper was finally forthcoming with him on Wednesday.
“I’m a firm believer that if somebody has had a little aggravation, if it’s bothering him a little bit, I’m going to rest him,” the manager said. “It could lead to a bigger injury, and then he misses more time. I’ve always done that. But he’s still young. I saw him over there in the game and then of course in the training room last night and he said: ‘I’m fine.’ But then today he was getting treatment, so I knew something was wrong.”
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