By Abby Sims
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Bryce Harper, the Washington Nationals outfielder – who bats lefty and throws righty – is a young stud. And hopefully that won’t get in the way of his having a long, productive and potential-reaching career.
Now, with less than a month left in the regular season, we learn Harper supposedly has had hip pain since crashing into the outfield wall on April 29th. He stayed in the lineup in spite of hurting his ribcage that day and then played on after another date with the wall on May 13th when he hurt his left knee. As any headstrong athlete might – but especially one who is a stubborn twenty year old – Harper continued to take the field, aggressively, though less productively, until aggravating the knee with a headfirst slide on May 25th. The diagnosis was bursitis and was secondary to the trauma from contact. Harper ultimately voiced his regrets for playing hurt – doing so likely compounded his recovery time.
Well, it seems Harper was giving lip service to having learned that lesson. Only after reportedly limping around the field and base paths these last few days did he admit his sore left hip was getting in the way. Evidently the player has been receiving treatment on the hip from the training staff for an undisclosed period of time. This reportedly without the knowledge of manager Davey Johnson.
Harper’s stats, have reflected his struggles, with his batting average dropping to .250 for the period following the initial injury in April (from .344 in the first 26 games). Of course it by no means clear that the earlier numbers are representative of where he would otherwise wind up at the end of the season were he to have remained healthy. However, should his numbers stick at .275 with an OPS of .885, Harper is still on pace to surpass his rookie season. It does seem likely that a healthy Harper might have cooled down but remain a .300 hitter.
Reports also point out that Davey Johnson had questioned Harper about his knee when he seemed to lack hustle getting to first base at end August. Johnson evidently felt the knee was still part of the injury equation, and intimated it may ultimately require offseason surgery. Was it the knee, hip or both that were at fault? Perhaps Johnson simply faulted the left knee because he wasn’t aware of the left hip injury. As to the hip diagnosis? I’ve seen no definitive reports in the media.
It certainly seems odd for a training staff to keep injury news from a manager, but is at the same time plausible that this occurs more than we know because of the confidentiality requested by players. It happened earlier this season with the Yankees, when the training staff revealed Teixeira’s prior issues in practice only after he exacerbated his wrist injury. Girardi was reportedly left to assume that the player had been progressing uneventfully. Makes no sense to me, for decisions have to be based on knowledge and playing hurt can have a significant impact on both performance and long term prognosis.
Follow Abby on Twitter @abcsims.
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