In the sixth inning, the Nationals saw a sight they’d rather not: Bryce Harper hunched over at the plate, clutching his surgically repaired left thumb. Facing Braves starter Aaron Harang, Harper fouled off a high fastball and then grabbed his left thumb, which underwent surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament and forced him to miss two months.
Nationals Manager Matt Williams and head trainer Lee Kuntz came out to talk with Harper. He stayed in the game and fouled off another pitch. Harper later smacked a single to left field. At first base, Harper took off his batting gloves and showed first baseman Freddie Freeman that left thumb was bugging him.
After the game, Harper said his left thumb was fine. His reaction was a combination of the pain from the vibration of the bat and the fright of hurting the thumb again.
“It’s gonna be like that for a while because anytime he gets jammed, it can really affect that area,” Williams said. “But he stayed in there and got a hit that at-bat and a big walk for us to set up that last inning for us. So he played well.”
Williams said there was no further ligament damage. “It can swell a little bit and it’s pretty painful if it’s on that ligament and the bat his that ligament hard, it’s painful,” he added. “And it takes him a little bit to get over it. But it subsides after a while.”
With Jayson Werth, Steven Souza Jr. and Nate McLouth dealing with injuries, the Nationals can ill afford to add another outfielder to that list.