Nationals' Bryce Harper reportedly has torn ligament in left thumb; could miss two months

Greg Fiume

Washington Nationals' slugger Bryce Harper has reportedly suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb. ESPN.com's Keith Law was the first with the report on the full extent of the damage this afternoon. It's yet another injury for the beleaguered Nats.

In reporting on Sunday that Bryce Harper landed on the 15-Day DL with a left thumb sprain, and he would be heading to Cleveland to see a hand specialist, Dr. Thomas Graham of the Cleveland Clinic, for a second opinion, Washington Post beat reporter Adam Kilgore wrote that a "person familiar with the situation" said it, "'Doesn’t look good.'":

"'The Nationals’ worst fear is ligament damage of the kind that shelved Los Angeles Angels slugger Josh Hamilton for six to eight weeks.'"

Those worst fears were realized today according to multiple reports including one by ESPN's Keith Law, who broke the story this afternoon:

"Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper will undergo surgery Tuesday to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb and is expected to be out until at least early July, according to multiple sources."

Harper injured the thumb Friday night sliding into third base on a base-clearing triple against the San Diego Padres. The Nationals' 21-year-old slugger remained in the game for an inning on defense, but when the Nats headed back out to the field for the fifth inning, he was replaced in left field.

"It started to swell. He jammed it and then after that half-inning it started to swell up a little bit, so we thought, 'Alright, let's get on it.'" - Matt Williams on Harper injuring his thumb on Friday night

"It started to swell," Nats' skipper Matt Williams explained on Friday night. "He jammed it and then after that half-inning it started to swell up a little bit, so we thought, 'Alright, let's get on it, get some treatment on it and make sure. But we'll see him again in the morning and see how he is."

Though initial X-rays were negative, Harper met with a hand specialist on Saturday. When Williams updated reporters that afternoon, he said the 2010 no.1 overall pick was getting an MRI and the Nationals were waiting on the results.

"He showed up this morning, a little swollen," Williams said. "Hand specialist saw him during the game. He is currently having an MRI. The X-rays were negative. He's having an MRI this afternoon. We'll have more details tonight or in the morning, but he's a little swollen today."

On Sunday morning, the Nationals announced that Harper was being placed on the Disabled List, retroactive to the previous day.

Harper missed a month on the DL with bursitis in his left knee last summer. After the season, he had surgery to repair the bursa sac in his knee and went through a lengthy rehab process as he prepared for his third major league season.

Harper joins Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos, Doug Fister and Scott Hairston on the list of injured Nationals in the first month of the 2014 campaign. Though he started slow this season and was actually benched for "lack of hustle" at one point, Harper was turning things around at the plate and after the three-run triple on Friday, the left-handed hitting outfielder was sporting a .289/.352/.422 line on the year with four doubles, two triples and one home run in 91 plate appearances.

Williams told reporters this weekend that Nate McLouth and Kevin Frandsen would split time in left field with Harper out of the lineup. Steven Souza, Jr., 25, was called up to take Harper's spot on the roster on Sunday.

Multiple sources have confirmed the initial report by Keith Law:

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