As Bryce Harper collected his belongings in the Nationals’ clubhouse and strolled out the door in his street clothes on Sunday morning, his next stop a visit with renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on his swollen left knee.
When the Nationals announced last week that Harper would visit Andrews, the bursitis in his left knee still resulting in pain and inflammation, it set off alarms. In any sport, and for any issue, visiting Andrews is very rarely is followed by good news for the injured player.
But general manager Mike Rizzo said on Sunday morning that there is “no worry” about there being any structural issues with the knee and the visit was strictly “protocol.”
“It is our protocol that players get a second opinion on any part of the body that we feel is a disabled list type of injury,” Rizzo said. “Guys get second opinions all the time here.
“Every person we put on the DL has gotten a second opinion. We send them to our team physician, he makes his diagnosis, we start the rehab process and get a second opinion just for corroboration. That’s our protocol.”
The swelling in Harper’s knee has, in fact, gone down since the team announced he’d visit with Andrews and Rizzo said Sunday that team medical director Wiemi Douoguih was encouraged by the outfielder’s recent progress. The way Rizzo explained it, Andrews is simple the expert the team employs for this type of body part
“James Andrews, we utilize him for our knees,” Rizzo said. “And when it was a hand injury we sent (the player) to the hand specialist. I didn’t see that (doctor’s name) in any headlines, but it’s protocol.”
Harper is eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday when the Nationals open a three-game series in Colorado and begin a 10-game road trip through Denver, Cleveland and Philadelphia. They hope they’ll get their two injured starting pitchers back on the trip with good reports coming in on Ross Detwiler and Stephen Strasburg.
Harper will remain with the team as well and continue his rehab, though it’s unclear how quickly he will return to the roster. Monday’s visit with Andrews will likely provide a bit more clarity.
“We’re upbeat about it,” Rizzo said of Harper’s progress. “We’ll see where it takes us.”
The Nationals are now 4-12 this season when Harper does not appear in the game.