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Harper returns to D.C. to have hip examined

Sep 8, 2013, 9:45 AM EDT

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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.”

  1. Section 222 - Sep 8, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    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.

    Same old song.

  2. mrnat7 - Sep 8, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    Please shut down Bryce for the rest of the year and get him ready for 2014. The way the Nationals are treating him he could turn into a Mickey Mantle or Ken Griffey, Jr. Bryce is to valuable to be playing games with and we have too much invested in him and we need him for the long run. He’s 20, and someone needs to start looking out for him. Any 20 year old around older players will try not to look soft! Also, send him to a medical staff that knows what they are doing!!! Since the team moved here, we have had quite a few strange diagnosis with our players.

    • Sonny G 10 - Sep 8, 2013 at 10:32 AM

      Sounds good to me, especially about getting a medical staff that knows what they are doing. Bryce is a big part of our future success. Don’t screw with it.

  3. Nattydread - Sep 8, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    Man. This team needs a medical staff. “Did you see Harper fall down? Looks like we should scratch him…”

  4. scnatsfan - Sep 8, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    I agree, the season is lost, shut Bryce down. Perfect chance to have Brown show us if he is a major league player.

  5. Susan Baldridge - Sep 8, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    I sure hope his injuries are temporary and he starts getting healthy again. Unfortunately, with the amount of impact into that wall, it will take a long time to heal. Cortisone and physical therapy will help, but time is also needed….

  6. laddieblahblah - Sep 8, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    I am so angry about the Harper situation I don’t know where to begin.

    Actually, I do. It began when Davey decided to treat Harper like the utility bench guy by moving him to RF, instead of the actual utility bench guy, Bernadina, following Werth’s hammy strain. Not being a baseball genius, like Davey, I would have taken a kid who had a .360+, .400+, .600+ line, and, stupid as I am, I would have left him alone, to play LF, where he had been prepared to play all during ST, except for some reps in CF, just in case.

    I still wonder what the marginal difference was, if any, in having Bernie in LF and Harper in RF, instead of the other way around. Of course, stupid as I am, I thought it was Espinosa who needed to be moved (off the team), not Harper (from LF to RF), and I could easily see the marginal utility in making a move with Espinosa, but not with Harper. But the genius decided to play Harper in a position for which he had not been prepared, in lieu of a bench guy (Bernie) who had years more experience playing RF than Harper, and in dong nothing with Danny Espinosa.

    Even after Harper’s first collision, in Atlanta, no light bulb came on. Davey put him right back out there in RF just to make sure he would be there to collide with the RF wall in LA. That kid was having a year for the ages until the baseball genius decided to show everyone how smart he was. He is too smart for me, because I still don’t get it.

    Of all the dumb things that Davey did this past year, that one is number one, in my book. And I am not second guessing. I thought so at the time, but I held my tongue. I finally just had to get that off my chest, because the kid has been paying for his manager’s stupidity, as have the Nats, all season long. And, unfortunately, they and Bryce may be paying for Davey’s “genius” for years to come.

    • David Proctor - Sep 8, 2013 at 12:05 PM

      Harper played all three OF positions last year without issue.

  7. Drew - Sep 8, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Here’s what encourages me: Harper and Rendon have shown mere glimmers of their capabilities. I expect both to get much better.

    Matt Skole is again ready to show whether he can be the big bat to succeed LaRoche. Tyler Moore also can rake in a starting role.

    If Zimmerman winds up at first someday, that’s OK too. Tony Renda might be a high average second baseman with doubles power after all.

    Maybe I’ve been selling Michael Taylor short. Billy Burns is exciting. Maybe Goodwin will figure it out.

    Most importantly: Pitching is the hardest thing to find. The Nats have a TON: Roark, Jordan, Karns, Giolito, Ray, Purke, Hill, Schwartz, Mooneyham, Johansen, Clay, Treinen.

    The window still looks good.

    • Sonny G 10 - Sep 8, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      Thanks for the rosy view, I need some right now. BTW, I agree with you.

  8. Drew - Sep 8, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    And A.J. Cole. And Sammy Solis. ..

  9. natslive - Sep 8, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    I agree – Harper needs to be shut down to give him time to heal. Davey is delusional if he still thinks they have a shot at the wildcard and instead of giving him a shot to keep playing – they need to shut him down so he can be ready for the future. I also agree with the poster above who mentioned we need a better medical staff – with the exception of the handling of Strasburg – how many times have we seen a player suffer an injury and it not be serious according to the staff and then it end up being serious or it would have been better to put them on a 15 day DL rather than them not be able to play and we play games short a player or two because a guy on the bench can’t play because of injury that lasts at least a week….

  10. scmargenau - Sep 9, 2013 at 12:19 AM

    Ever think harpers a bit of a baby? A bit soft?

  11. scmargenau - Sep 9, 2013 at 12:20 AM

    Two words. Lou Gherrig

    Played with fingers that could barely grip a bat. Never complained.

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