It wasn’t much of an update, really, but Washington Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker did tell reporters what little he knew about the latest information of Bryce Harper’s neck stiffness when he spoke about the 23-year-old outfielder being out of the lineup again for tonight’s series opener with the Atlanta Braves.
Harper hasn’t played since he struggled with the neck issue in an August 6th game against the San Francisco Giants and was removed as a precaution.
He’s missed three games since, but Baker said the latest updates were positive.
“He’s better. He’s better,” Baker explained. “And so, decided to keep him out another day, but he is better.”
Asked if he was “more available” or capable of pinch hitting tonight if it was necessary, Baker said he wasn’t sure.
“I’m not sure, cause the chiropractor is going to come in and see him and we’ll see after that.”
As far as he knew, Baker said, no further testing had been done on Harper to check on his progress.
“No, no further evaluation as far as I know, but like I said, Paul [Lessard] and our staff are working on him every day and it’s better than it was.
“I think these days off helped him, and so, like I said, I can’t say any more than that because the chiropractor is coming in to see him today, so hopefully they can relieve the spasm.”
As far as whether or not he’s more confident now that with the improvement Harper can avoid a DL stint, Baker said he hopes it doesn’t come to that.
“The longer it goes... I hope not, you know. We’ll probably have to make a decision within a few days,” he explained.
“Because we’re going short, but right now, like I said, with the progress he’s making we haven’t discussed that.”
SI.com’s Tom Verducci, however, quoting a “source close to the team”, wrote today that a “previously undisclosed injury” might be behind Harper’s struggles.
“The Washington Nationals right fielder and 2015 National League MVP has been playing through a right shoulder injury for the past two months.
“The injury affects the area at the top and back of his shoulder and at the base of his neck. Harper has been receiving treatment for the injury, the source said, including cupping therapy and Active Release Technique.”
Verducci adds that the injury, “... has been particularly problematic for Harper when it comes to pulling his bottom hand through his swing, the key to creating loft and power.”
Though the cause of the injury is unknown, Verducci adds that Harper is “believed to have aggravated the shoulder on a head-first slider two months ago.”
Would that explain what’s happened at the plate for Harper over the last few months?
Hearing that Harper's trouble more a combination of neck/right shoulder trouble than just a stiff neck, as Tom Verducci wrote.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) August 12, 2016
(That, on Harper, from a person familiar with the situation by the way)— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) August 12, 2016
Here’s the latest, with GM Mike Rizzo on Tom Verducci’s report:
Rizzo denies SI report: 'Tom Verducci is wrong.'— Chase Hughes (@chasehughesCSN) August 12, 2016
Rizzo said the treatment part of SI article is correct. He has been doing cupping, etc. But no shoulder issue. Rizzo just spoke w/ Bryce.— Chase Hughes (@chasehughesCSN) August 12, 2016
Rizzo said he just checked with Harper, and that reports of a pre-existing shoulder injury are inaccurate.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) August 12, 2016
He said it's a "stiff neck." I had heard a combination of neck/shoulder stuff was the issue, which makes sense. One affects the other.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) August 12, 2016