Before today there was discussion about Bryce Harper potentially returning for the start of the Washington Nationals' three-game set with the Atlanta Braves. When the lineup for tonight's game was announced, however, Harper's name was not pencilled in and according to what Davey Johnson told reporters at Turner Field this afternoon, there might be a DL stint in the 20-year-old outfielder's future:
Davey said as soon as he saw Bryce Harper limping off the plane last night he knew he wouldn't play today.— Amanda Comak (@acomak) May 31, 2013
Davey says Harper still hobbling, unlikely to play this weekend. DL becoming a possibility now.— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) May 31, 2013
Per Davey, Harper's left knee didn't respond well to yesterday's workout. He was limping coming off the team bus.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) May 31, 2013
Davey: "Probably out of the question" that Bryce Harper plays this weekend in Atlanta. DL becoming a possibility.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) May 31, 2013
Harper worked out yest. & Davey saw him limping last nt. Knee isn't swollen enough to drain it but "he's not going out there til he's ready"— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) May 31, 2013
The Nationals' 2010 no.1 overall pick originally injured the knee running into the right field wall in Dodger Stadium, then reaggravated it on a sliding play in the outfielder and a couple sliding plays on the basepaths, but as of 24 hours ago, the reports from Davey Johnson were that the knee had improved enough for Harper to test it in workouts. Harper told reporters, including the Washington Post's James Wagner, that even after resting the knee for several days it was still bothering him:
"'It’s alright,' [Harper] said. 'It’s really not going anywhere. It’s staying the same and it sucks I can tell you that, not being on the field and being able to play. I’ll see how I feel [Friday] in Atlanta, get out there and hopefully run a little bit and take some BP, maybe. Not rushing.'"
D.C. GM Mike Rizzo addressed the issue in an interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier this past Wednesday. "We've been told that it's just a bursitis in his left knee," Rizzo told the show's host. "When the swelling goes down, the pain will go down and he'll be able to play. And if anybody's had an injury on their knee or on their elbow or something like that, when you hit it, it's really extremely painful and immediately swells up. So it's something we want the knee to get healthy and get it back so he can play at or near 100% and where he's not just grinding it out. It's not going to get worse, the knee, by playing on it, but it's just awfully painful and it affects every move in your body because it's his back knee, his plant knee, where he gets his explosion and his power and to ask him to grind it out when he's not nearly capable of being 100% I don't think is fair for him and really affects the club."
Harper hasn't played since this past Sunday when he left the finale of the three-game series at home with Philadelphia early. After the initial injury, the Nats' outfielder was 7 for 31 (.226/.333/.452) with a double and two home runs over the nine games he did play before the knee forced him to the bench. On the season, the second-year major leaguer has a .287/.386/.587 line with seven doubles, a triple and 12 HRs in 178 PAs.