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Harper admits he hasn’t been 100 percent since April

Sep 4, 2013, 6:14 PM EDT

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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.”

  1. Section 222 - Sep 4, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    No surprise that he hasn’t been 100% since April. His numbers certainly reflect that. I posted these a few days ago, but why not repeat them:

    In the 27 games from April 1 through May 1, the night he ran into the wall in Atlanta, Harper’s slashline was .337/.427/.705/1.133, with 9 HR and 18 RBI. Those are HoF numbers. In the 72 games from From May 2 to the present, .257/.364/.444/.808 with 10 HR and 31 RBIs. And in the 55 games since he returned from the DL– .272/.377/.460/.837, with 7 HR and 26 RBIs. That’s a decent nice line, but certainly not superstar stats like his first month.

    I’m looking forward to next year when, hopefully, he’ll be fully healed and also much savvier about how to avoid injuries in the future.

    • David Proctor - Sep 4, 2013 at 6:33 PM

      In all fairness, it was likely he was going to regress somewhat. I don’t think he was going to hit 50 home runs this year, nor do I think he was going to hit .337. I think at a fully healthy season, he hits around .300 with 35-40 home runs. I think in a few years, he could hit 50 though.

      • Section 222 - Sep 4, 2013 at 7:08 PM

        In all fairness? Fairness to who? The walls he ran into? Presumably you don’t think his numbers since then are unaffected by his health. Of course he wasn’t going to hit 50 HRs this year. But most of us predicted over 30. And he’s at 19 now, with only a slight improvement in his slashline over last year. That’s not just a regression from his otherworldly April.

        Harper could have been on his way to age 20 season. Instead, he’s been hurting for most of the year. That’s a shame, and I just hope he gets well before next season. Good on Davey for resting him tonight.

  2. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 4, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    I want to hear from Dr. Rob Dibble about this.

  3. Section 222 - Sep 4, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    I meant “historic” age 20 season, obviously.

  4. secretwasianman - Sep 4, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    So now that the season is all but officially in the crapper Bryce comes out with this. WOW just WOW. Not only do these guys stink they are loaded with excuses too. Really don’t like the whole character this year. Bryce hides hes hurt. Then get calls out for not hustling then says hes hurting. NO CLASS. should have drafted Muchado.

    • naterialguy - Sep 5, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      Well I think you do not have a lot of fun and it is a mystery to me why you follow this team

  5. provotrout - Sep 5, 2013 at 12:38 AM

    Bryce is still very young but has a tendency to come around when he acts out of line. Davey can be stubborn but means well. It seems Bryce is figuring out how to work with him and vice versa.

    Long term Davey will leave and Bryce will very likely have a manager with less stature and a more forgiving/hands off style. That should let Bryce relax and find his groove. The kid loves to play and has a strong head, I doubt his minor case of immaturity will derail his career or his team’s success.

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