Bryce Harper was 2 for 2 with an RBI single and a bases-loaded, three-run triple through his first two at bats last night, but the Washington Nationals' 21-year-old slugger injured his thumb on the three-base hit, jamming it when he slid hard, headfirst into the bag.
An inning later, in the top of the fifth, he was replaced in left field by Nate McLouth, casting a pall over the Nationals' 11-1 win over the San Diego Padres in Nationals Park.
After the game, however, Nats' skipper Matt Williams delivered relatively good news to reporters.
"For now he's okay," Williams said. "He jammed his thumb sliding into third on a triple. It's a little swollen. He could have continued to play, I think, tonight, but we thought it best to get on it right away. So we'll reevaluate him tomorrow. See where he's at, but just jammed it sliding into third."
Harper remained in the game and scored on a Jose Lobaton single that made it 6-0, then returned to the field for the top of the fourth, but after the home-half of the inning he was lifted.
"It started to swell," Williams explained. "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."
The Nationals did have the left thumb examined.
"We had an X-ray," Williams said. "X-ray was negative."
"He was just going into third," Williams continued. "Again, I haven't looked at it yet, but it just kind of twisted on him. So, but all indications are he's okay."
Asked if he would prefer his players slide feet first when possible to avoid these kinds of injuries, Williams joked with reporters about making that kind of in-the-moment choice.
"I don't think you can dictate one way or the other," he said. "It depends on the slide, it depends on... I didn't hit many triples, so I don't know how he feels going into third."
"He's trying to make it third base," the Nationals' first-year manager said, "you can't take away from guys going, trying to make it."
Harper was 2 for 2 with four RBIs when he left the game and he was coming off a 2 for 5 night in the series opening loss to the Padres. Williams was happy with what he's seen from his left fielder over the last few days.
"He's fine. He looks good," Williams said. "Tonight he laid off a couple of tough breaking balls and a changeup down and got himself in a good hitter's count and delivered for us. He's looked good the last couple of days for sure."
The Nationals will reevaluate Harper this morning when he arrives at the park.
Washington and San Diego play the third game of their four-game set at 1:05 pm EDT.