Update, 6:48p.m.: Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth will both play Thursday night in the series finale against the Braves after both dealt with injuries. Harper gave the Nationals a scare when he winced on a check swing in the sixth inning of Wednesday’s game and was pulled by Manager Davey Johnson. He scraped hard against the right field wall when he jumped on his attempt to catch a home run in Tuesday’s game.
X-rays following Wednesday’s game were negative. After a doctor evaluated Harper, the Nationals felt confident Harper’s injury was just a bad bruise along his left side under his armpit, Johnson said. There are no plans for an MRI, he added. At first blush, Harper’s reaction to pain in that area seemed like a potentially more troubling oblique injury, or even a rib injury
“We took the X-ray to be precautionary,” Johnson said. “If he’d have broken some ribs, it’d have been much more painful. They did it anyway. A real bad bruise. He’s young, strong. He didn’t want to come out the other day. I had to fight him on that.”
Harper’s presence in the lineup is sorely needed for a scuffling offense. His bat has been the best and most consistent in the Nationals’ lineup this season, and he has been among baseball’s best hitters. Harper said before Thursday’s game that he only felt the injury when he swung. Throwing, he said, wasn’t an issue. On the check swing, when all the movement stopped and weight shifted to his left side, he was in pain.
Before Thursday’s game, he said he wanted to play but would have to go through batting practice in order to be sure. He and Werth sprayed balls over the field as they hit, a clear sign both were well enough to play. Harper said he has been icing his side and received ultrasound therapeutic treatment but massages hurt.
“I don’t see it being my oblique or anything like that,” Harper said. “It’s more inside my rib area more than it is my oblique. Maybe I shouldn’t run into walls,” he deadpanned.
Werth didn’t play Wednesday after he fouled a ball on his left ankle in the eighth inning of the previous inning. He was already dealing with a tight right hamstring. The ankle affected Werth more than the hamstring and he only performed light jogging before Wednesday’s game. The left ankle, his landing foot when he swings, was still stiff before Thursday’s game “but it’s playable.”
Werth also wanted to test his ankle and hamstring before the game and during batting practice. “I should be all right,” he said. “I felt like I was available (Wednesday) night if they needed me.”
With Harper and Werth in the lineup, Johnson won’t have to call for bench players to fill the lineup. Ryan Zimmerman is scheduled to come off the disabled list on Friday from a hamstring strain, a welcome bat to a slow-starting lineup. “Hopefully we’re getting close to being full strength again,” Johnson said.
Original post 6:10 p.m.: Bryce Harper (side) and Jayson Werth (hamstring/ankle) both felt fine after taking batting practice and are in the Nationals’ lineup on Thursday against the Braves. Werth missed Wednesday’s game with a sore ankle, on which he fouled a ball off of on Tuesday, and the remnants of a tight hamstring. Harper scraped against the wall in Tuesday’s game trying to catch a home run. He was pulled from Wednesday’s game in the sixth inning when he grimaced on a check swing.
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Steve Lombardozzi, 2B
3. Bryce Harper, LF
4. Jayson Werth, RF
5. Ian Desmond, SS
6. Adam LaRoche, 1B
7. Anthony Rendon, 3B
8. Wilson Ramos, C
9. Dan Haren, SP
1. Jordan Schafer, RF
2. Chris Johnson, 3B
3. Justin Upton, LF
4. Freddie Freeman, 1B
5. Evan Gattis, C
6. Dan Uggla, 2B
7. B.J. Upton, CF
8. Andrelton Simmons, SS
9. Kris Medlen, SP