Bryce Harper admits hip soreness bothering him, will rest

September 4, 2013

Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

After telling Manager Davey Johnson for at least three days days that he felt fine, Bryce Harper admitted to his manager that his sore left hip was bugging him. As a result, Johnson will rest Harper in the series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday. Coupled with Thursday’s off day, Johnson hopes the two days of rest will help Harper and the outfielder can return to action on Friday in Miami.

For at least three days, Harper has been limping around the field and base paths. But he insisted to Johnson, as did the training staff, that Harper was fine and able to play despite receiving treatment on the left hip. When Johnson saw Harper receiving more treatment on Wednesday, the two talked again.

“I said, ‘I know you want to play. And you know I want you to play. But is it bad? Is it barking?'” Johnson said. “He said, ‘It’s barking.’ ‘Okay, you’re off.’ So it was that easy. Or that tough, however, you want to put it.”

Johnson expressed his displeasure twice over the previous two days, mostly at the team’s training staff, that he wasn’t originally informed of Harper’s injury despite asking. According to Johnson, Harper and the training staff always said the outfielder was fine to play. Johnson was pleased to hear from Harper’s honest assessment before Wednesday’s game.

“I’m a firm believer that if somebody has had a little aggravation, if it’s bothering him a little bit, I’m going to rest him,” he said. “It could lead to a bigger injury and then he misses more time. I’ve always done that. But he’s still young. I saw him over there in the game and then of course in the training room [Tuesday] night and he said, ‘I’m fine.’ But then [Wednesday] he was getting treatment, so I knew something was wrong.”

Harper has said he has felt well enough to play and that if he wasn’t he couldn’t withstand any discomfort he would tell Johnson. He has missed 38 games this season, most because of left knee bursitis. He has still managed to post better numbers than last season, or at least be on pace to. He is hitting .275/.378/.507 with 18 homers. His .885 OPS would rank 15th in the majors if he qualified.

Other than his torrid first month of the season, avoiding injuries has been difficult. Harper has dealt with a balky knee, a sore rib cage, dizziness and an ingrown toe nail this season, most of the injuries stemming from two crashes into walls. He hit the wall in right field in Atlanta on April 30 and then slammed into the right field wall in Los Angeles on May 13.

“It’s been tough,” Johnson said. “I know he missed 31 games during that stretch and then struggled when he came back because of his knee. He’s still awful young, and he’s still learning the league and pitchers. This is an important time for him. It’s a shame that he hasn’t been 100 percent healthy.”

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010 and, prior to covering the Nationals, covered high school sports across the region.
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