JUPITER, Fla. — Bryce Harper reached base for the 10th consecutive plate appearance Tuesday afternoon, walking in his third at-bat after getting hits in his previous nine, to bring his spring training batting average to .476.
The torrid spring offensively, the gaudy numbers, they belie the inflammation issue in Harper’s left hand that manager Davey Johnson said worsened on Tuesday.
Nationals trainer Lee Kuntz is concerned enough with the swelling in Harper’s left thumb area that he will see Nationals medical director Wiemi Douoguih on Wednesday to determine the best course of action from there.
“He’s still got a little tender top hand,” Johnson said after the Nationals’ 8-5 loss to the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium.
“I might have to give him a couple days off, I don’t know. Usually those are just kind of nagging injuries. If it gets real bad you give him a little cortisone in there and that quiets it down, but i don’t know if it’s that bad.”
Harper originally got jammed on a hard base hit to right field last Friday. Johnson held him out of Saturday’s game and Harper, who tried hitting with a rubber guard on his thumb during batting practice on Sunday but chose not to use it in the game, seemed unconcerned about the issue.
“If it does hurt, I’m going to play anyway,” he said Sunday. “So, it’s all good.”
Johnson said he wasn’t opposed to giving Harper some rest during the final three games of the exhibition season, but he also didn’t want to sit his starting left fielder for five straight days and then tell him to suit up for Opening Day.
“I’ve just got to check with the doctor,” Johnson said.
Harper was jammed again on Tuesday in his second at-bat, in which he singled to right field off Henderson Alvarez. Johnson told him he’d take him out after that at-bat, but Harper asked for him to allow him at least three at-bats on the day and told his manager he was going to bunt. He walked in his final plate appearance.
“If you get jammed enough, there’s inflammation in your thumb area from the trauma,” Johnson said, referencing his own personal experiences with the issue as a player. “Rest does help it, I know. But the last couple days it hasn’t been swollen. Today it was swollen.”
Told that Harper’s performance doesn’t seem to have suffered since the issue first arose, given that he was 9-for-9 with a walk, Johnson only chuckled.
“I figured it was something like that,” he said.