“He actually was trying to stay in the game,” Span said. “I was looking at him like, ‘No, you need to come out of the game.’ He’s a warrior. I guarantee he’s going to try to play tomorrow. I just thank God he’s okay.
“He was trying to tell the trainer and Davey, ‘I’m okay, serious. I’m okay, serious.’ I’m like, ‘Is somebody going to step up and say he’s not okay? Because he doesn’t look good here.’ ”
The Nationals and Harper survived another scare. X-rays on his knee and shoulder, taken late Monday night, came back negative, General Manager Mike Rizzo said. Johnson held him out of the lineup Tuesday night, but Harper should return soon. Harper “will be sore but fine,” Rizzo said. “Day- to-day.”
Harper listed off what hurt the day after: “Both legs. Shoulder. Ribs. Hand. Wrist. Chin, of course.” Harper would have played if he only felt sore, but he also felt nauseous, he said.
“I feel kind of crappy today,” Harper said. “I feel a little carsick, I guess you could say, like the feeling of that. I don’t have a concussion or anything like that, which is very pleasant to hear.”
While all sides agreed Harper does not have a concussion after he was tested Monday night, Johnson said Harper would “probably” undergo more tests at some point because of the nausea. In 2011, baseball instituted new rules that force teams to follow specific protocol for players who may have experienced head trauma.
Harper can do just about anything he wants on a baseball diamond, but at 20 and still learning the outfield, he lacks the instinct to protect himself. Harper’s utter abandon helps make him the player he is, helps separate him from so many others. It also may endanger his long-term prospects and threaten the Hall of Fame career earmarked for him since his youth.
“He’s not worried about the wall or anything,” Johnson said. “He should know it’s on the warning track and back off, but that’s not his nature. I don’t want to change that. I feel sorry for the wall if he keeps running into them.”
It was easy for the Nationals to joke about Harper’s latest brush with injury once they learned he didn’t have a concussion and that the X-rays he went for were only precautionary. Should they be more concerned? Should the Nationals be worried that he doesn’t worry about walls?
Tuesday, in the visitors clubhouse at Dodger Stadium, Harper again made clear he prioritizes effort over safety. He said having to shave his beard to make way for the stitches upset him most, more than the possible harm he could have caused himself.