Despite having reached base in 10 consecutive plate appearances, Bryce Harper may miss the next few days after inflammation returned to his sore left thumb today, Manager Davey Johnson said.
The condition of Harper’s hand did not alarm Johnson, who expects Harper to play at least once more before opening day April 1. But the swelling concerned team trainer Lee Kutz enough that he wants team physician Dr. Wiemi Douoguih to examine Harper’s thumb, Johnson said.
The inflammation could require Harper to receive a cortisone shot, “but I don’t know if it’s at that point,” Johnson said. Johnson described the ailment in Harper’s thumb as a “knot.”
“Rest does help it, I know,” Johnson said. “The last couple days, it hadn’t been swollen. Today, it was swollen.”
Harper first felt soreness in his thumb after he was jammed while stroking a single against Tigers pitcher Drew Smyly on Friday. Johnson scratched Harper the next day against the Mets. He has used a foam pad around his thumb during batting practice and played each of the past three days.
The pain in his hand has not prevented Harper from taking his blistering spring training to a new level. Harper has gone 9 for his last 9 with a walk and a double, with nine of those plate appearances coming after he hurt his thumb. Harper is now hitting .476 in 63 at-bats this spring with an on-base percentage over .500.
Harper, who also missed Saturday’s game with swelling his thumb, went 2 for 2 today with two singles and a walk before leaving the game. He talked Johnson into taking the third plate appearance, which ended with a four-pitch walk.
“He told me he was going to bunt,” Johnson said.
Johnson wants Harper to play before opening day, he was not certain Harper would appear in the Nationals’ exhibition Friday against the Yankees at Nationals Park.
“I really don’t know,” Johnson said. “I just got to check with the doctor. He needs to have some playing. You don’t want to just shut a guy down and have him take five days off before the opener.”