Sep 8, 2013, 9:45 AM EDT
Unable to play for the second time in three games due to an ailing left hip, Bryce Harper has left the Nationals in Miami and is returning to Washington to be examined by the club’s doctor.
Harper was a last-minute scratch from Saturday night’s game after he fell to ground trying to take swings in the batting tunnel at Marlins Park, manager Davey Johnson told reporters following the Nationals’ 9-2 victory.
The Nationals decided to send the 20-year-old outfielder back to Washington, where he’s due to be examined Sunday by team medical director Wiemi Duouguih. He’s expected to rejoin the club Monday in New York for the start of a four-game series with the Mets, though there’s no guarantee he’ll return to the lineup.
“It’s something we need to aggressively attack,” Johnson told reporters. “We’ve been kind of treating it as a slight hip strain. But obviously, it’s something more serious than that. We need to fix it, and he needs to finish the year strong.”
Harper has been dealing with the hip pain for at least a week. He was hobbled during Monday’s game in Philadelphia and received treatment the following day, at which point Johnson finally was informed of the hip issue.
Even then, though, the club downplayed the severity of the injury, with head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz terming it merely “soreness” and saying no further tests were necessary.
Harper was held out of the lineup for Wednesday’s series finale against the Phillies. Johnson hoped 48 hours of rest — the Nationals were off Thursday — would help Harper heal enough to get him back in the lineup for the weekend.
Harper did play Friday night in Miami, going 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout. He was due to play again Saturday before his mishap in the batting tunnel only minutes before gametime.
This is only the latest physical ailment for Harper in a season full of them. He suffered a bruised left ribcage after crashing into the chain-link fence in Atlanta trying to rob a home run on April 30. Two weeks later, he ran full-speed into the wall at Dodger Stadium, leaving his neck bloody and his left knee damaged, ultimately requiring a five-week stint on the disabled list with bursitis.
Since returning to the active roster July 1, Harper has also dealt with injuries to his left foot and now his left hip. In an interview on Wednesday, he admitted he hasn’t felt 100 percent healthy since that initial wall collision in late-April.
“Ever since I hit the wall, pretty much every day I feel something different,” he said. “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.”
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