Alex Brandon/AP Alex Brandon/AP

Bryce Harper received an MRI on his swollen left knee and results showed no structural damage but was diagnosed with left knee bursitis. Harper, who is out of Monday’s lineup, aggravated his left knee injury when he slid head first into second base in the first inning of Sunday’s game, and worsened when he then stole third and later fouled a ball off his knee. He is expected to miss a “couple of days” as his knee is rested and treated.

The Nationals fear that Harper would further aggravate his knee if he were to play and bump it again. But, according to Nationals medical director Wiemi Douoguih, there wouldn’t be a risk of structural damage if Harper played with bursitis. The team’s medical staff wants to reduce the inflammation in the knee to minimize pain and allow him to regain full mobility. Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa sac, one of the many pad-like pouches in the knee.

“There’s no structural injury,” Douoguih said. “It’s just more time loss because it gets inflamed.”

Douoguih said the Nationals would observe Harper’s knee over the next two days and evaluate him after that. He said if Harper were to serve as a designated hitter on Wednesday, as Manager Davey Johnson suggested could be a possibility, the outfielder could still bang his knee running the bases as he did on Sunday.

“The worst-case scenario is that it swells up and then it would need to be drained, or even have that sac surgically removed,” Douoguih said. “That’s something we want to avoid and that’s why we’re shutting him down now. From a structurally standpoint, it’s not harming any of the ligaments or tendons or particular cartilage in his knee. That’s what we’re most concerned about. We’re trying to control so it doesn’t advance to the point where we need to take that sac out, or take fluid out.”

Harper originally banged his left knee when he slammed into the right field fence in Los Angeles on May 13. The injury, one Harper said on Sunday would linger all season, clearly hobbled him against the Phillies when he ran and stood out in right field. “That’s why we want to get this inflammation down so we can put that worry out of his mind and our mind,” Nationals trainer Lee Kuntz said.

Johnson said Harper could be an option to serve as the designated hitter on Wednesday when the Nationals play the Orioles in Baltimore. “DH’ing will probably be good for the him. He won’t run into any walls,” Johnson said.


1. Denard Span, CF

2. Steve Lombardozzi, 2B

3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

4. Adam LaRoche, 1B

5. Ian Desmond, SS

6. Tyler Moore, LF

7. Roger Bernadina, RF

8. Kurt Suzuki, C

9. Gio Gonzalez, SP



1. Nick Markakis, RF

2. Manny Machado, 3B

3. J.J. Hardy, SS

4. Adam Jones, CF

5. Chris Davis, 1B

6. Matt Wieters, C

7. Steve Pearce, LF

8. Yamaico Navarro, 2B

9. Jason Hammel, SP