Bryce Harper hurt his thumb sliding into third base Sunday. (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)

Bryce Harper wanted to play Tuesday. The left thumb he injured sliding awkwardly into third base head-first Sunday, tests concluded, was structurally sound. No ligament tears. No broken bones. The right fielder was ready. It was some rare good injury news for the Nationals on a day when they found out Wilson Ramos has a torn anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the remainder of the season.

But Manager Dusty Baker didn’t budge from his custom of giving players an extra day after they declare themselves ready, so Harper isn’t in the Nationals’ starting lineup against the Diamondbacks for the second straight night Tuesday.

“I didn’t think it was wise for him to play today,” Baker said. “He was being courageous. I’ve told these guys that it’s hero time. They asked me was it hero time yet and I said not. Almost. We’re a few days away from hero time.”

Hero time, Baker continued, could begin Wednesday, depending on how the Dodgers fare against the Padres late Tuesday night. The Nationals begin the evening leading Los Angeles by one game for home-field advantage for the clubs’ National League Division Series matchup, though it’s really more like a half-game lead because the Dodgers own the tiebreaker. Game 1 is Oct. 7, either at Nationals Park or Dodger Stadium.

“I’d like to think Harp might be in there tomorrow, but we’ll see because that hand, they don’t heal very quickly,” Baker said. “Your hands and your feet probably heal the slowest of anything because you got the least amount of circulation there. But we have some magic hands back in the back, and I’m hoping that they lay them on Bryce.”

The Nationals’ lineup also doesn’t include second baseman Daniel Murphy. The all-star isn’t starting for the ninth consecutive game because of a strained buttocks. Murphy hasn’t started a game since Sept. 17. He made two pinch-hit appearances against the Marlins last week. The injury has hindered Murphy when running, not hitting or fielding, and General Manager Mike Rizzo said he has made improvement.

“He’s been running well, so I’m not all that concerned about him,” Rizzo said. “We still have time to get him right. Again, we’d like to see him in some games to keep him sharp and to be razor sharp when the playoffs start.”


2B Jean Segura

3B Jake Lamb

1B Paul Goldschmidt

C Welington Castillo

LF Brandon Drury

RF Yasmany Tomas

SS Chris Owings

CF Mitch Haniger

RHP Matt Koch


CF Trea Turner

LF Jayson Werth

2B Stephen Drew

3B Anthony Rendon

1B Ryan Zimmerman

RF Brian Goodwin

SS Danny Espinosa

C Jose Lobaton

RHP Max Scherzer