The Washington Nationals franchise had a scary moment Saturday night as star outfielder Bryce Harper injured his knee running through first base, slipping on the wet bag due to rain. Harper immediately fell to the ground and grabbed at his left knee.
The 24-year-old was unable to put any weight on his leg and was carried off the field. The optics of the injury painted a bleak picture for the Nationals. Questions arose as to why MLB mandated the Nationals and San Francisco Giants play a game without much implications.
Harper underwent an MRI on Sunday, which fortunately for him and the Nationals only revealed a bone bruise in his knee and not ligament or tendon damage.
Nationals president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo expressed a sense of relief and said the team is hopeful Harper will return at some point before the regular season winds to a close, via Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post:
“Although we feel we’ve dodged a bullet a bit here with any long-term ligament and tendon damage, the bone bruise is something of significance,” Rizzo said on Sunday morning. “And we’re going to treat him cautiously and hopefully have him back later on this season.”
Harper, who was the 2015 unanimous National League MVP, was in the midst of another MVP caliber season, hitting .326/.419/.614 with 29 home runs, 87 RBIs and 92 runs scored at the time of the injury. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list in light of the hyperextended knee.
The Nationals have not had good luck in regards to injuries this season, as veteran Jayson Werth, leadoff man Trea Turner and big offseason acquisition, Adam Eaton, have all missed significant time due to injury. A torn ACL brought Eaton’s season to an end in late April.
Michael Taylor was activated from the disabled list in a corresponding move to Harper being shelved. Taylor had been sidelined since July with a right oblique strain.
The Nationals pitching staff has also endured injuries, as young righty Joe Ross was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery and Stephen Strasburg is currently on the 10-day DL with a right elbow impingement.
Washington holds a 14.5-game lead in the NL East entering play Sunday, which affords them the luxury of exercising extreme caution with Harper. Just like the Los Angeles Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw, Harper’s health is paramount to postseason aspirations and goals.