With the swelling and inflammation in his left knee not improving, the Washington Nationals will send outfielder Bryce Harper to visit with Dr. James Andrews on Monday and get a second opinion from the renowned orthopedist.
It is unlikely, therefore, he will come off the disabled list Tuesday as the team initially hoped.
Harper, the Nationals’ 20-year-old phenom, has not played since May 26 with bursitis in his left knee. But the issue dates back to his running into the right field wall at Dodger Stadium on May 13 and the progress since then has been only minor.
The Nationals listed him as day-to-day for a week but ultimately put him on the disabled list Saturday.
“He’s probably not going to be available to come off when he’s supposed to come off,” manager Davey Johnson said Thursday, in announcing the plans for Harper to visit with Andrews.
“We haven’t been real successful with our treatment here. He constantly gets treatment here, but we’ve got to get that inflammation out of there.”
This week, Harper attempted to do some running in the pool and the knee swelled again, at which point the team felt it was best for him to have a fresh set of eyes take a look at the knee.
The team’s initial medical opinion, from medical director Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, was that there is no structural damage in the knee, only an inflamed bursa sac.
Johnson said there are cases in which the bursa sac can be removed, but the recovery would require “two or three weeks down.”
“That’s a last resort,” Johnson said.
There is apparently not enough fluid in the knee to have it drained.
Harper sat for the better part of two games after running into the wall in L.A., only pinch hitting in the second. He then played for two games, and sat for two more. He played in six straight games after that but hasn’t been allowed on the field since — particularly aggravating the knee May 26 against the Phillies.
Harper said Thursday he will not play again until he feels he is fully healthy.
“I’m not going to rush it,” he said. “I’m going to take as much time as I can to get right. I want to get back in this lineup 100 percent. I don’t want back in it at 80 percent.”
When Harper does feel close to returning, he expected that he’d need to play in a few rehab games to test himself and ensure that the knee does not swell again. But with his appointment with Andrews looming, that doesn’t appear to be an imminent possibility.
He is also not interested in getting any type of cortisone shot in the area, saying he doesn’t “want to put any of that stuff in my knee, in my body. I think that that would do some damage to my knee and I’m not going to do that at 20 years old.”
“Everybody says it’s bursitis,” Johnson said. “I thought if he took some anti-inflammatory it would calm it down, but it’s kind of been lingering. When he runs, it swells up. He was jogging in the pool, it swelled up from that. We’re concerned so we’ll get another opinion on it.”