One week after Bryce Harper received a cortisone shot from orthopedic specialist James Andrews to relieve bursitis in his left knee, Nationals team physician Wiemi Douoguih reevaluated Harper today and cleared him to begin walking and jogging.
The swelling in Harper’s knee had dissipated and he felt no pain in his knee performing range-of-motion activities, Nationals head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz said. The developments enabled Nationals trainers to begin ramping up his activity. The Nationals have no specific timetable on when Harper could return, but Kuntz said the cortisone shot has thus far had the desired effect.
“We’re going to reevaluate this almost daily,” Kuntz said. “We’re adding bricks every day, trying to improve upon what we did yesterday and not lose any ground. You got to see how he reacts to the one thing before you add the second thing.”
Over the weekend, Manager Davey Johnson said Harper experienced “puffiness” in his knee after a training session. Kuntz said Harper had tried to walk, which the Nationals’ training staff had told him to avoid. The episode highlighted Kuntz’s insistence on cautious progress.
“You got to walk before you can jog, and you got to jog before you can run,” Kuntz said. “He’s a guy that wants to go from walk to run.”
Harper will begin walking today, with an eye toward running “fairly quickly,” Kuntz said. Once Harper can run, he can begin baseball activities such as swinging and throwing. Running, Kuntz said, will be a more important test for his knee than any baseball-related activities.
Once Harper can sprint and take batting practice, he will have to play two or three minor league rehab games, Johnson said.
“I think he’ll be back pretty soon,” Johnson said.
Since Harper last played May 26, the Nationals have gone 8-10 and scored 3.56 runs per game. Johnson, though, said the Nationals have the personnel to withstand playing without Harper. He does not want Harper to feel pressure to rush back before his knee, which he first hurt crashing into the Dodger Stadium wall May 16, has finally healed.
“We certainly have the talent here to do some damage,” Johnson said. “We just need to start doing it.”