Remember when Chicago White Sox' minor league outfielder Rodney McCray ran right through the yellow and blue Flav-R-Pac ad near the 369 ft sign on the plywood right field fence in Portland Oregon's Civic Stadium chasing a fly ball off Minnesota Twins' prospect Chip Hale's bat? The wall in that minor league park gave way. The right-field fence in front of the out-of-town scoreboard in Dodger Stadium didn't budge when 20-year-old Washington Nationals' outfielder Bryce Harper ran into it on Monday night. The Nats' second-year major league tracked a line drive off Los Angeles Dodgers' catcher A.J. Ellis' bat, watching over his left shoulder as he sprinted back after starting in. Harper was at a full sprint when he hit the track, but he continued watching the ball as it passed over his shoulder, then turned and ran face first into the wall.
Harper's right knee, right shoulder and face collided hard with the scoreboard at full speed and the Nats' 2010 no.1 overall pick crumbled oddly, slowly to the ground as the ball rolled away from the wall and came to a stop on the outfield grass.
Denard Span recovered the ball and fired it back in to hold Ellis at third, then turned to his fellow outfielder:
"I've never seen anybody hit the wall like that." -- Denard Span— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) May 14, 2013
Harper reportedly argued that he could stay in the game, but the Nationals' trainer and manager, who came out to check on the outfielder, weren't hearing it. He received stitches to close a cut he suffered on/under his chin, but as Davey Johnson told reporters after the Nats' 6-2 win over the Dodgers, doctors didn't believe he had suffered a concussion. "Bryce is going to be all right," Davey Johnson said, "He had 11 stitches. And [Dr. Neal] ElAttrache checked his -- he had his -- his knee was bruised [from hitting] the wall. His neck and he went for x-rays, but I don't think -- no concussion. So, he should be all right in a day or two."
The Nats' skipper confirmed that Harper didn't want to leave the field. "He didn't want to come out of the game," Johnson said, "He was bleeding all over the place. And I couldn't actually see in his beard, because that's where he really got cut up in his beard. But, he's a tough guy, he'll be all right."
You can watch the video of Harper's injury here:
Johnson was asked if, as it appeared, Harper had asked if he made the play as he was flat on his back on the track. "No," Johnson said, "I didn't hear that. Would have been like him though to ask. I thought he was unconscious there for a minute." As for what went wrong for the catcher-turned-outfielder, who's still learning the three outfield positions at the major league level, Johnson explained that there were several factors that resulted in the collision. "He was playing a little shallow and [Ellis] hit the ball well and it was, you know, curving. But it was a tough play. But he'll be alright."
"He's tough," Johnson continued, "And it's really a kind of a wire fence. I think that's what ended up -- I'm sure he pushed it back to something hard and that's what gave him the cut, but I was more worried when he wasn't moving too much. I thought maybe he had a concussion or something, but fortunately he's alright, so that's good news."
Harper tends to hurt himself frequently. The Nationals' 70-year-old skipper said it's a consequence of the young outfielder's approach. "He's just going to go. He's not worried about the wall or anything. He should know he's on the warning track and back off a little bit, but that's not in his nature. And I don't want to change him."
"I feel sorry for the walls," Johnson joked, "because he's going to keep running into them."