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Bryce Harper has bursitis in his left knee, plus injury updates on Espinosa, Werth, Ramos & Detwiler

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As Davey Johnson took the podium for his daily media briefing, the Washington Nationals’ manager looked tired. Maybe it was the gray stubble, now growing in a little thicker on his chin, that he vowed not to shave until his offense started performing the way he expects them to.

Or maybe it was the laundry list of injured players the 70-year-old manager has had to keep track of the past few weeks. Jayson Werth, Wilson Ramos, Ross Detwiler, Ryan Mattheus, Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper have all appeared on it lately.

“We’ve got a regular MASH list around here,” Johnson said. 

So let’s start ticking them off:

– Bryce Harper has bursitis in his left knee — the inflammation of a bursa sac that is causing him pain and discomfort. He had an MRI on the knee and it came back clear, but did reveal the soft tissue edema that Nationals medical director Wiemi Douoguih  said will require a few days of rest to calm it down.

The joint and the rest of his knee, Douoguih said, is fine, and the bursitis does not put him at risk for a more serious injury.

“The worst-case scenario is that it swells up and then it needs to be drained or even have that sac surgically removed,” Douoguih said. “That’s something we want to avoid, and that’s why we’re shutting him down. 

“From a structural standpoint, it’s not harming any of the ligaments or tendons or cartilage in his knee, so that’s what we’re most concerned about. But we’re trying to control it so it doesn’t advance to the point that we don’t need to take that sac out take fluid out.”

Harper, who appeared to be in significant pain on several occasions on Sunday after sliding on his knee and fouling a ball off it, was not in the Nationals lineup on Monday against the Orioles and he likely will not be in Tuesday’s lineup, either. 

The Nationals have him on an aggressive treatment regimen in order to speed up the process of reducing that inflammation. They will monitor him closely over the next 48 hours in the hopes that they can minimize the issue. 

Johnson left open the possibility that Harper could serve as the Nationals’ designated hitter on Wednesday and Thursday in Baltimore, but what they want to avoid is having it flare up again before it’s as reduced as possible. 

“Once this thing is better, it should be better,” Douoguih said. “It shouldn’t bother him. Sometimes it can nag and last for a couple weeks and other times it goes away in 48 hours. We’ll just have to treat it and see.”

“There’s always risk with that of re-injury because if you bump it, it flares up again,” added head trainer Lee Kuntz. “The idea is just to get it settled down now so we can put it to bed and go from there.”

– Second baseman Danny Espinosa tested his fractured right wrist with some hitting on Monday morning. With the swelling in his wrist having subsided some, Espinosa came through the session well.

Douoguih said the plan is to continue to ramp Espinosa up from here. If the swelling in that wrist returns, a lengthier period of rest would be required. 

“We’ve already tried a couple times to rest it and get him back,” Douoguih said. “If it flares up again, we’re going to have to have a more extended period of rest.”

Douoguih also provided a bit more clarity on why this was not diagnosed at the time of Espinosa’s initial X-ray, back in April when Paul Maholm hit him on the wrist with a pitch. 

“He did have some findings on the initial X-ray but it was away from where he was sore,” Douoguih said. “So we thought that it might be old. It wasn’t bothering him. A couple of weeks ago, he developed new pain in a new location that was around where the bone chips were and then that’s when we became more concerned.”

Douoguih also reiterated what Espinosa and Johnson have said, in that the bone chip is not likely to cause further issue and the main problem is getting the bone itself to heal. 

Johnson spoke before he got a full report on Espinosa, but he said if the second baseman came through the workout OK he would consider using him off the bench. And if he was feeling up to it and was cleared medically, he would consider starting him again as early as Tuesday.  

– The plan for Jayson Werth is to try to be ready to play in rehab games toward the end of this week and be ready to return to the Nationals’ active roster by next week. Werth, who has not played since May 2 with a right hamstring strain, felt well enough to play in a game with Single-A Potomac two weeks ago, but felt his hamstring tighten during that game. 

It has been a frustrating issue for Werth, as well as the Nationals’ training staff. 

It’s been a challenge because when he developed the hamstring problem, he also had this problem with the (stomach) issue and dehydration, so he had a lot of issues with cramping,” Douoguih said. “It was hard to tell whether some of it was induced by the cramping or the dehydration or whether it was a hamstring injury.” 

Werth has been running sprints and working on strengthening his muscle. Douoguih said Werth has not reported any pain in doing that work. 

“He is getting better,” Douoguih said. “We anticipate that he’ll be on track to come back sometime next week. But again, we can’t tell. We’ll have to take it one day at a time. Yesterday, he looked good. We’re going to go to the next phase and then hopefully get him out to some rehab starts in the next few days.”

Douoguih also confirmed what Wilson Ramos told The Washington Times on Sunday: that the re-strain of his left may take six weeks to heal this time. Ramos is roughly 12 days into that period, so he could be looking at about another four weeks before he’s ready to return to the Nationals’ active roster.

– Nationals left-hander Ross Detwiler, who was expected to start on Tuesday but was scratched and placed on the disabled list with what the team is calling a “right back muscle strain,” could start on Sunday.

The team has not announced who will start Tuesday’s game, though it appears Chris Young is one option for them as he was pulled after just one inning (36 pitches) on Monday night.

Zach Duke, who started last Monday for the Nationals in Detwiler’s place, could be another options.

Detwiler was placed on the disabled list retroactive to May 16 after he felt his back tighten on him during fielding drills on Sunday. Until that point, he had been making good progress. Johnson indicated he could be ready to go as soon as his turn will come up again in the rotation.

Dr. (Douoguih) and Det both felt like that was doable,” Johnson said. “I think he can come off the DL on Thursday. We don’t need him to come off the DL (then), he can just come off and pitch.”

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About the Author
Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at acomak@washingtontimes.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.

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