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UPDATE: Nats say Harper suffered “mild” hamstring strain

Jun 18, 2015, 11:43 PM EDT


Updated at 11:43 p.m.

Manager Matt Williams says Bryce Harper suffered only a “mild” hamstring strain during what appeared to everyone inside Nationals Park to be a serious left leg injury sustained on a freak play in right field during Thursday night’s 5-3 loss to the Rays, offering up some cautious optimism about the 22-year-old MVP candidate.

“We’ll see how he is tomorrow,” Williams said. “It’s mild, but he strained it a little bit.”

Harper left the crowd of 29,242 at Nationals Park, not to mention his teammates, holding their collective breath when he crumpled to the ground and grabbed his left leg in obvious pain after slipping while making a wild throw to the plate during the top of the sixth inning.

Scooping up Asdrubal Cabrera’s 1-out single, he prepared to fire toward the plate in an attempt to throw out Tampa Bay’s Logan Forsythe. Harper’s leg, though, gave out as he planted to make the throw on outfield grass that remained wet following a 17-minute rain delay two innings earlier. The throw sailed 40 feet wide of the intended target, landing in the third-base dugout as Harper fell to the ground in pain.

“It was really slippery out there with the rain, and my right knee gave out and then I put all my pressure on my left knee and got my hamstring, lower hamstring and the knee a little bit,” Harper said. “But, I mean, it didn’t feel very good. I was in pretty good pain. A little scared at the same time, because I could feel a little bit more on the lower half of it. But I’ll see how I am tomorrow and go from there.”

Williams and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz rushed from the dugout to check on Harper while the crowd sat hushed. After several minutes, Harper got back up on his feet and eventually walked off the field under his own power, though with a noticeable limp.

Harper had surgery on his left knee following the 2013 season to remove a bursa sac that had plagued him for most of the summer. Given the history, he was admittedly worried when the play first happened, though he felt more encouraged after meeting with team doctors.

“You know, I’ve had problems with my left knee before,” he said. “I’ve had surgery on it. So it was definitely really scary. It didn’t feel all that great when I was laying there. So, pretty scary. But talked to the doc a little bit, get what he thought and then see how it felt. Very happy with what it feels like.”

Harper said after the game he hadn’t undergone an MRI yet.

“It’s not to that point,” he said. “If it still feels pretty terrible tomorrow or the next day, then we’ll take that. But we’re just gonna see how it feels tomorrow, see how it feels the next day and go from there.”

After battling significant injuries each of the last two seasons, Harper had made it through the 2 1/2 months of this campaign missing only two games (each time after getting hit by a pitch). Healthy for the first time in a long time, he has produced huge offensive numbers, leaving Thursday’s game with 22 homers, 53 RBI, a .344 batting average and MLB-leading .476 on-base percentage, .720 slugging percentage and 1.197 OPS.

For a Nationals club that currently has veterans Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman on the disabled list, with Denard Span and Anthony Rendon having missed the beginning of the season due to injury, the loss of Harper for any length of time would be a devastating blow.

“It’s time to step up,” Williams said. “Everybody. We look forward to doing that tomorrow.”


  1. David Proctor - Jun 18, 2015 at 9:26 PM

    Unbelievable. Nothing more I can say.

  2. philipd763 - Jun 18, 2015 at 9:39 PM

    Hopefully, he only has a wrenched knee with no significant ligament damage.

  3. senators69 - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:19 PM

    I just watched the clip on MLB:
    Looks like his right plant foot slipped thereby putting all his weight on the left leg and awkwardly, apparently his left knee.
    Sickens me. I pray no ligament damage.
    I also wonder if a brace would be helpful when he heals and how it might impact his play.

  4. veejh - Jun 19, 2015 at 6:05 AM

    I guess this is good news?

  5. laddieblahblah - Jun 19, 2015 at 6:27 AM

    I think Bryce’s comments are the most significant. Admitted he was scared, at first, but felt much better, later. Made it sound like he was planning on playing today, unless an examination by a doc rules that out. I take that as good news. Turned the game off after that play last night. The best player on the planet deserves some good luck, for a change.

    Have updated Rizzo’s rap sheet to include Detwiler for Bostick and Jery Hairston for Erik Komatsu.

    • laddieblahblah - Jun 19, 2015 at 6:29 AM

      Rizzo’s rap sheet – a felonious history of theft, chicanery, larceny and fraud:

      Guilty, guilty, guilty – each count merits life in solitary, without hope of parole:

      2009 – Seattle gets Ryan Langerhans………………………………Nats get Michael Morse
      2010 – Texas gets Christian Guzman + $82 mn………………..Nats get Tanner Roark, Ryan Tatusko
      2010 – Minnesota gets Matt Capps………………………………….Nats get Wilson Ramos, Joe Testa
      2012 – Minnesota gets Alex Meyer………………………………….Nats get Denard Span
      2013 – Detroit gets Lombo, Krol, Robbie Ray…………………..Nats get Dough Fister
      2014 – Tampa Bay gets Nate Karns………………………………….Nats get Lobaton, Rivero, Vettleson

      “Do not buy a used car from this man” category:

      2012 – Oakland gets David Freitas (who?)………………………..Nats get Kurt Suzuki
      2013 – Oakland gets Michael Morse…………………………………Nats get AJ Cole, Blake Treinen, PTBNL
      2014 – Cleveland gets Zach Walters…………………………………Nats get Asdrubal Cabrera
      2014 – Texas gets Ross Detwiler………………………………………Nats get Chris Bostick, Abel Dos Santos

      Jury still out, but an eventual guilty verdict seems very likely:

      2014 – Tampa Bay gets Steven Souza……………………………….Nats get Joe Ross and Trea Turner
      2015 – Oakland gets Tyler Clippard………………………………….Nats get Yunel Escobar
      2015 – Yanks get Tony Renda………………………………………….Nats get David Carpenter

      Hung jury, ordered back into deliberations:

      2011 – Oakland gets Peacock, Cole, Milone, Norris……………Nats get Gio Gonzalez
      2013 – Tampa Bay gets David DeJesus……………………………..Nats get Mathew Spann

      Nothing to see here – Mutually inconsequential huff-puffing, with no significant impact on baseball’s competitive statusphere:

      2009 – Pirates get Joel Hanrahan, Lastings Milledge……………Nats get Nyjer Morgan, Sean Burnett
      2010 – Arizona gets Josh Willingham………………………………..Nats get Corey Brown, Henry Rodriguez
      2011 – Arizona gets Jason Marquis……………………………………Nats get Zach Walters
      2011 – Milwaukee gets Jerry Hairston……………………………….Nats get Erik Komatsu
      2013 – Oakland gets Kurt Suzuki………………………………………Nats get Dakota Bacus.
      2013 – Cubs get Ivan Pineyro……………………………………………Nats get Scott Hairston
      2015 – Mets get Jerry Blevins…………………………………………..Nats get Matt den Dekker

      The con man, inevitably, is conned, himself:

      2013 – Oakland gets Billy Burns……………………………………….Nats get Jerry Blevins

      • tcostant - Jun 19, 2015 at 7:44 AM

        THat was so great, I won’t even nitpick. Great!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 19, 2015 at 8:09 AM

        I still hate the Willingham trade. I thought Rizzo could have gotten much more. I think that was his 1st trade without Kasten. I think even Rizzo would tell you that wasn’t a good deal.

      • virginiascopist - Jun 19, 2015 at 8:23 AM

        Didn’t we end up with Ian Krol as the PTBNL in the Morse trade?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 19, 2015 at 8:31 AM

        Virginiascopist, yes on Ian Krol as the PTBNL

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:43 AM

        “I still hate the Willingham trade.”

        “Rizzo’s rap sheet” is just my take, Ghost. Many will differ, I’m sure, with specifics.

        Willingham was listed among the nothing-burgers because that trade did not significantly impact either team, IMO. Every trade listed from top to bottom either turned out highly in favor of the Nats, or figures to work out that way, over the long haul, IMO, until you get to the “hung jury” trades. Billy used every piece he got in the Gio trade to make more deals, and I won’t take the time and trouble to try and track each one of them. It is conceivable he came out on top in that one, but Gio may trump all of that with a return to form. And who knows how Spann will work out? He is doing well, but not great, in the minors. He may emerge, like Tanner Roark did, or simply disappear down baseball’s memory hole into total obscurity.

        There was one, and only one deal where Rizzo came out 2nd best, IMO, and that was listed last. Every trade listed was favorable for the Nats, or likely to be favorable, until you get to the “Nothing to see” list, each of which I rated a wash. That is quite a record of trading success by the Nats GM over the 6 years he has been making them. I can’t see how any reasonable baseball fan could disagree with the unusually remarkable trading success of Mike Rizzo as chronicled in this “rap sheet” of outright thievery, and sly grifting.

        Will update the Krol info next iteration, and I think I may have missed a trade involving Sean Burnett.

      • tcostant - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:00 AM

        Don’t forget that Rizzo was willing to give up Drew Storen, Danny Espinosa and Jordan Zimmermann for Greinke, but Greinke said no.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 19, 2015 at 1:10 PM

        from the linked article (emphasis added):

        It’s not known whom the Royals would have acquired had Greinke accepted the move to Washington. Published reports indicated that reliever Drew Storen, infielder Danny Espinosa and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann may have been part of the deal.

        And all this was from an unnamed “baseball source.” Could’ve been some comment on a blog. Or Bowden.

    • natsfan1a - Jun 19, 2015 at 7:58 AM

      Turned the game off and retired after the 6th. It was getting towards my bedtime and I was more concerned about Bryce than the game’s outcome at that point. Hope it’s not serious.

      Won’t see tonight’s or tomorrow’s game as we’ll be at the P-Nats tonight and taking my Chicago-now-Denver buddy out for some more sightseeing tomorrow. We will be at Sunday’s game, though.

  6. Guapo - Jun 19, 2015 at 7:33 AM

    So scary. I’m not sure this club could recover from an extended Harper injury this season. Couple quick thoughts.

    – It almost looked like Harper’s right pant leg dropped under his cleats and contributed to the bad footing. I wonder if we see him in more high pants in the near future?

    – That play never should have happened. Nats should have been out of that inning. But Desmond’s errors continue to hurt the team, on the board and on the field. He must be benched. MW looks like a fool for continuing to play #20 at short.

    • Jfmii - Jun 19, 2015 at 7:51 AM

      This year Ian is not getting better in the field. At this point it does not matter whether he hits or slumps on offense; the Nationals simply can not afford to give away this many outs. Never thought I would say this, but he needs to be removed as the every-day shortstop. Pinch hit, play some outfield. Truly sorry it is happening in a contract year. I like him a lot but love the Nationals. Play Escobar at short, platoon Tyler and Robinson until Zim returns. Everyone in the infield will be playing career-to-date positions.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:37 AM

        Desmond has 15 errors on the season – 9 in April, and 4 in May, 2 so far in June. Which in fact is his pretty typical pattern.

        Not defending him, just pointing out the facts.

      • jfmii - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:16 AM

        Yes, Hiram Hover, I hear you. He seemed to regress the last two games. Gave up a run with a missed chance at a double play Wednesday (no error charged), then missed another double play last night that would have gotten Fister (and Harper) safely in the dugout. Also on the play where he got the force at third, he briefly bobbled that grounder because his legs got tangled up. Hard to watch. Feel badly for the pitchers

      • infideljack - Jun 19, 2015 at 3:07 PM


  7. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 19, 2015 at 8:10 AM

    ESPN with a nice story on Bryce Harper

  8. nats106 - Jun 19, 2015 at 8:33 AM

    Good luck to anyone watching the games this weekend. Was there last night and then stuck in 395 traffic for the better part of an hour. Going to, from and during a game has rarely been so painful.

    • ArVAFan - Jun 19, 2015 at 8:39 AM

      Metro wasn’t bad (for a change). I think the rain held the crowd down, and then folks started leaving after the sixth inning, kind of spreading out the traffic.

    • rayvil01 - Jun 19, 2015 at 8:48 AM

      Fortunately I go down Suitland Parkway. Honestly, this stadium is a dream to get to and come back from. Not looking forward to the Douglass Bridge project, though.

    • tcostant - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:56 AM

      Use “ALE” and you’ll get home fine.

      ALE = Alway Leave Early

  9. rayvil01 - Jun 19, 2015 at 8:52 AM

    First Bryce injury this year that didn’t come from a HBP. He’s really done well with walls. Now a slick field gets him.

    I don’t expect him back for a few days…and hopefully that’s all it is.

  10. jd - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:48 AM

    coupla thoughts:

    1) My 1st instinct last night was to blame MW for keeping Fister in too long (MW is really bad at understanding when a pitcher is running out of steam) but in fairness Fister seems to hit a wall very suddenly and it’s hard to react quickly enough, also it doesn’t help that Desmond always seems to screw up when you need it least.

    2) I don’t think Treinen should be the go to guy when you are 1 run down and you need a shutdown appearance in the worst way, he almost never stops the bleeding.

    3) There were some miserable at bats in key situations last night most notably by Rendon and Ramos, Rendon is not close to where he was last year, I hope he’s ok, Ramos should really be hitting down in the lineup but I understand that at this time he can’t.

    4) It’s getting worse and worse with Desmond every day. I am now of the opinion that he needs to go down to Syracuse for 2 – 3 weeks away from the big league pressure cooker and find his game if he can. Even if Esco doesn’t have great range we can live with that, if we need to play Espi at short and leave Rendon and Esco where they are so be it. Desi is playing below replacement level, that can’t continue any longer.

    5) If Harper is out for more than a couple of weeks, god help us. We will then be without the 3,4,5 projected hitters.

    6) Time for the starting pitchers to take center stage and pitch to their capabilities and start giving is 7-8 solid innings on a regular basis.

    7) Rivero, Carpenter and Jansen look pretty good to me.

    • jfmii - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:19 AM

      IMO, you can’t demand greatness from the starting pitchers without a solid defense behind them.

      • jd - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:21 AM

        I think I can expect pitchers to pitch to their capabilities which has not been the case for 4 out of 5 starters this year. Defense is an issue but it only tells part of the story.

    • therealjohnc - Jun 19, 2015 at 12:03 PM

      On Treinen being the guy, the other options at that point start with Rivero, a guy with 8 total innings pitched in the big leagues. Barrett also creates the willies for many fans, so I’m assuming you don’t want him in any game except a lost cause either. Carpenter has looked … OK … in his total of three appearances so far for the Nats. His appearances with the Yankees this year got him DFA’d. Just because it happened somewhere else doesn’t mean it’s not relevant in the choice. I guess you could have gone to Janssen in the 6th – but then you’ve got to get through the rest of the game, too.

      And it’s likely that none of them would have done better than Treinen did. With a runner on third and two outs it would take a strikeout and another out to keep the run from scoring. Treinen did get two strikeouts to strand a runner at third, but only after giving up a triple to Dejesus. Of all the options except Barrett, Treinen gave the team the best chance for a strikeout.

    • infideljack - Jun 19, 2015 at 3:15 PM

      Agree, but I would put Esco at SS with Rendon at 3rd and Danny at 2nd if Esco cannot play 2nd.
      The problem for him is positioning at 3rd and not his range. That tells me he does not have much arm and needs to learn to play 2nd.
      Getting Roark back in the pen will help, but we need to find a way to keep Ross in the rotation even if it means dealing an underperforming starter.

  11. janebeard - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:52 AM

    I keep coming back here to see if there is an update on Bryce. Thank you Mark for getting this original post up so quickly. Laddie, AWESOME work on the thievery record of Mike Rizzo. So many great trades here. Now if we could just make another trade or three and get back some BP help, that would be supreme.

    • natsguy - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:27 AM

      Ya gotta have something to give in order to get.

    • jd - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:44 AM

      I may be in the minority here but I don’t think the bullpen is close to being our biggest need.

      • virginiascopist - Jun 19, 2015 at 12:48 PM

        Then include me in the minority as well. Yes, it’s frustrating when the bullpen gives up a lead in the 6th or 7th, but I’d like to focus on getting there with a lead to begin with. Baby steps.

      • infideljack - Jun 19, 2015 at 3:18 PM

        As soon as Tanner gets back to the pen, it will be fine. I guess that is today. Ross needs to be part of the rotation.
        On offense, we need to sit the chronic non performers.





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