The Washington Times - July 21, 2012, 02:05PM

One of the last things the Washington Nationals wanted to see happened in the first inning of Game One of a doubleheader on Saturday. Bryce Harper, batting against Ben Sheets, squared to bunt the 0-1 pitch and bunted an 89-mph fastball into the inside of his left ankle/foot.

He was removed from the game after two innings.

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Harper appeared to be in significant pain immediately after the foul bunt, walking a ways down the first base line and crouching over in pain every few seconds.

He was attended to by the Nationals’ trainers and spent several minutes trying stave off the pain. He attempted to put weight on his foot several times, each time needing to put his hands on his knees and crouch after a few seconds.

Harper stayed in the game, though, and finished the at-bat with a swinging strike. He then played center field in the top of the second inning but did not have a ball hit to him. When the team returned to the field for the top of the third inning, Roger Bernadina had taken Harper’s place in center field.

There was no immediate update on Harper in the pressbox. UPDATE: Harper was removed from the game with what the Nationals are calling a sore left ankle. The announcement in the pressbox said he was pulled for “precautionary reasons.” 

For an image of where the ball impacted Harper, see the above photo, courtesy of @recordsANDradio with a screenshot via MASN.

Losing Harper for any amount of time would be a blow for the Nationals, who have relied on their rookie phenom in every game since his call-up. But it would be especially poor timing now as the Nationals designated two different outfielders for assignment this week in Rick Ankiel and Xavier Nady.

In Triple-A Syracuse, Corey Brown is hitting .302 with 21 home runs and has been on a tear in his last 10 games, hitting .336 with a .556 slugging percentage. When the Nationals’ DFA’d Ankiel, Johnson mentioned Brown as one of the reasons the team felt comfortable parting ways with Ankiel and even referred to Brown as probably a better hitter than the veteran.

More information as it’s available.