LOS ANGELES — Bryce Harper required 11 stitches in the area of his chin and will go for precautionary X-rays on his left shoulder, but the Washington Nationals outfielder avoided a concussion in a gruesome collision with the right field scoreboard at Dodger Stadium on Monday night.
Harper was examined by Dr. Neil ElAttrache, the Dodgers’ head physician and an extremely well-regarded orthopedic surgeon.
“Bryce is going to be all right,” said manager Davey Johnson. “He’s a tough kid.”
It was a picturesque game for the Nationals, who beat the Dodgers 6-2 on a warm Southern California evening. But there was nothing picturesque about seeing their 20-year-old star outfielder writhing on the warning track in pain as trainers sprinted out to him in the fifth inning.
“The way he ran into the wall, he definitely had no idea where he was (in relation to it),” said center fielder Denard Span, the first to be by Harper’s side after impact. “As soon as he ran into it his body locked up. I’ve never seen anybody run into the wall like that.
“I just was like ‘Is he going to stop?’ And he just kept going.”
Harper was ranging back to chase a fly ball off the bat of Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis when he slammed face-first into the wall. He collapsed on the warning track and didn’t appear to move for several seconds, a scary scene.
“I was more worried when he wasn’t moving too much,” Johnson said. “I thought he was unconscious for a minute… I thought maybe he had a concussion or something, but fortunately he’s all right.”
As the Nationals’ trainers and Johnson rushed to his aid, Harper began moving but was in obvious pain. Span told him to stay down on the ground and not over-exert himself trying to get back up. Span did manage to get the ball back to the infield where Ellis was on third with a triple, and several Nationals teammates rushed out to right field to check on Harper.
Once he did get up, Harper attempted to try to talk Johnson and head trainer Lee Kuntz into leaving him in the game, but with blood dripping down his neck, it was obvious that wasn’t an option. Harper was also banged up on his knee, shoulder and neck.
“He actually was trying to stay in the game and I’m looking at him like ‘No, you need to come out of the game,’” Span said. “He’s a warrior. I guarantee he’s going to try to play tomorrow. I think he was trying to tell the trainer and Davey that ‘No, I’m OK, serious.’
“I’m like, ‘Somebody going to step up and say that he’s not OK? He doesn’t look good here.’ Finally Davey, it was like he pretended he was going to leave him in the game and then he said ‘No. Get out of here.’ Not that it was funny, but hindsight, knowing that he’s OK, it was a little humorous.”
Harper, who also slammed into the right field scoreboard in Atlanta two weeks ago trying to rob a home run and came away with a rib contusion, walked off the field under his own power but looked shaken and had blood dripping down his neck.
“He was bleeding all over the place,” Johnson said.
“Any time that kind of stuff happens to anyone it’s no good,” said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. “It looks like he hit the wall pretty good, but him walking off and being alert and all that makes it look a little better. Hopefully he’s OK, he’s obviously a big part of this team.”
Roger Bernadina took Harper’s spot in right field as Harper made his way toward the dugout with Kuntz and Johnson.
“I didn’t even think the ball was going to go that far to be honest,” said right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. “I thought it was a routine fly ball and it kept carrying. I feel bad for him. That’s all you can ask for as a pitcher, a guy going 110 percent. Hopefully he’ll be all right.”
Harper was alert and with the team, but he was unavailable for comment on Monday night. It was not immediately expected that he’d need to go on the disabled list, but it was too soon to tell how quickly he’d be able to return to the field.