Sep 9, 2013, 6:17 PM EDT
NEW YORK — An MRI taken Monday morning of Bryce Harper’s ailing left hip showed no structural damage, so the Nationals star outfielder could be back in the lineup as soon as Wednesday.
Manager Davey Johnson said team medical director Wiemi Douoguih diagnosed Harper with inflammation in the hip and prescribed him anti-inflammatory medication and two more days of rest. If the 20-year-old outfielder can participate in pregame drills with no issues after that, he should be cleared to return after that.
“All the tests — the MRI and all that — show no damage, no structural damage,” Johnson said prior to Monday night’s series opener against the Mets. “There’s just irritation and inflammation in there. Take care of that, and he’s good to go.”
Douoguih’s diagnosis comes as something of a relief to the Nationals, who feared Harper may have been more seriously injured and might need to miss the rest of the season. Now they are cautiously optimistic he can play these final three weeks without risking further injury.
“He’s been playing with it off and on for the last week,” Johnson said. “They were treating it last week as a sprain. A sprain, you just give it ultrasound and massage and hopefully you get by it. So this may be even better that we know it’s inflammation. They can correct that with medication. So it might be perfect.”
Harper has been dealing with this ailment for at least a week. He appeared hobbled at times during last Monday’s game in Philadelphia, then was held out of the lineup for Wednesday’s series finale at Citizens Bank Park.
He talked his way in for Friday’s series opener in Miami, but then was a last-minute scratch the following night after aggravating the condition while taking swings in the batting tunnel at Marlins Park only a few minutes before first pitch.
Harper flew back to Washington on Sunday and was examined Monday morning by Douoguih. He received no cortisone shots, only oral anti-inflammatory medication. He could arrive at Citi Field at some point this evening, though Johnson said he won’t be playing until Wednesday at the earliest.
Though some may question why the Nationals — with only scant mathematical odds of making the playoffs — would let Harper attempt to play again this season, Johnson insisted it would be worthwhile for the young star.
“Well, it’s not going to hurt him,” the manager said. “I mean, you play with a little discomfort all the time. It’s going to be up to him. If he feels like it’s OK, he’ll play. If not, he won’t.”
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