Update: 12:35 a.m.: The post below is taken from Adam Kilgore’s game story of the Nationals’ 7-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. To read the full account, click on the above link.
Original post: Bryce Harper could miss a game or two after he received 10 stitches above his left eye Friday night to heal a self-inflicted wound suffered during the Nationals’ 7-3 victory over the Reds.
After making an out in the seventh, Harper whacked a wall down the tunnel from the Nationals dugout with his bat. The bat caromed off the wall and smacked him above the left eye, drawing copious blood immediately.
Harper sheepishly emerged from the trainers room late Friday night, a golf ball-sized welt protruding from his forehead and clumps of blood in his hair.
“It doesn’t hurt at all,” Harper said, smiling. “I feel fine. I didn’t get light-headed at all or nothing. I feel good.”
Manger Davey Johnson said Harper could miss one or two games, but Harper insisted he wanted to play.
“I think I’m good,” Harper said. “The doctor said I could play, so I’m going to play.”
Harper endured his worst game since arriving in major leagues, going 0 for 5 with three strikeouts. In fourth at-bat, in the seventh inning, Harper grounded out to second base off Reds reliever Jose Arredondo. Back in the dugout, Harper took his bat down the tunnel that leads to the clubhouse and took his frustration out with a fierce swing against the wall.
“I just got caught up in the moment,” Harper said. “I want to do so well. It just got me.”
Baseball players release anger in the same manner on ball fields every day, at every level, but it rarely goes so wrong. The bat bounced off the wall and drilled Harper above his left eye.
“It started bleeding,” Harper said. “And I was like, ‘Ah, crap.’ Stitched it up as fast as I can and go back out to the outfield.”
“I didn’t think much about it,” Johnson said. “We put a band-aid on it, one of those butterflies. That’s what ballplayers do – break bats, throw helmets. That’s not anything new.”
Harper returned to the field in the seventh inning with blood streaking down the left side of his face. No teammates asked what happened, because they knew, either from the sound or from personal experience, what had happened. Afterward, shortstop Ian Desmond christened him with the nickname “Bam Bam.”
Johnson had few qualms with Harper’s actions, mainly chagrin at his misfortune. “It’s an easy way to get rid of your frustration,” Johnson said. “I’ll speak to him about it, because evidently he went a little overboard. That’s not what you want to do. The equipment is supposed to take the brunt of it. We’ll addressed that.”
Harper took one more at-bat, striking out in the ninth inning. He said he would be more careful in the future.
“I guess I won’t do it anymore, but I don’t know,” Harper said. “I’ve done it a million times. It’s just a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing. It came back and got me.”