The Washington Times - September 3, 2013, 06:08PM

PHILADELPHIA — Bryce Harper was in the Washington Nationals’ lineup on Tuesday, but head trainer Lee Kuntz confirmed that the outfielder is dealing with “soreness,” in his left hip and has been receiving treatment on it.

Kuntz declined to say how long Harper has been getting treatment on his hip, and he did not know what originally caused the pain. But he indicated it was not an uncommon thing at this point in the year, with 137 games in the rearview mirror.

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“We’re at that time of year where people are getting a little dinged up,” Kuntz said. “Is it sore? Yeah. Can he play? Yeah.”

Harper was limping on multiple occasions on Monday night, and Tony Tarasco and Jayson Werth separately checked with him to be sure that he could continue in the game. Harper told them, as he has told manager Davey Johnson each day, that he is fine. He reiterated that after the game, saying “If I was hurting, I’d come out of the game.”

“You ask him, he’s 100 percent, thumbs up, all the time,” Johnson said Tuesday. “I really want him in there. He’s still in a learning process. He’s still a big threat. He says he’s OK… The way I see him move around at times, I think he’s on his last leg. But then you ask him, ‘You alright?’ ‘I’m OK.’ And I don’t have any negative report from the trainer, so he’s in there.

“I mean, to this day, even now, (the training staff) has not told me anything is wrong with him. So with that in mind, I know he was getting some treatment again today. I saw him getting treatment yesterday and I asked the trainer, ‘Is he OK?’ He said, ‘Yeah he’s fine.’ I don’t think they assume it’s anything worth worrying about.”

Whatever the issue is, it has not appeared to drastically impact Harper’s production, though it might’ve been the reason behind his jogging to first base on Friday night in a critical spot on grounder that was bobbled. Bench coach Randy Knorr criticized Harper for not hustling on the play, and Harper said he’d learn from it. 

However, in the last 25 games, Harper is hitting .311 with a .436 on-base percentage and a .511 slugging percentage. In the last seven games, he’s 8-for-24 (.333). Obviously as the Nationals try to make a late-season push for the playoffs, they want Harper’s help. 

The Nationals have not sent Harper for any extensive testing, Kuntz said. But in order to ensure that he is not creating a significant injury by playing through whatever is causing this soreness, the trainer indicated they would get him further examined. 

“We’ll have it checked out by the appropriate people,” Kuntz said. “So far, it’s soreness, we’ll treat it and go from there. He’s in the lineup, right?”

The issue has been the source of some irritation for Johnson, who said he was not aware that Harper was receiving treatment on his hip until Monday’s game.

Had he known, he said, he would’ve altered his lineup to allow Harper some time off, instead of running him out in center field. At this point, however, he said he’s hopeful Harper will be fine for Tuesday and Wednesday’s games and he can rest on the team’s off day on Thursday.

“That’s why I was a little upset with the training crew,” Johnson said. “Because if anybody’s ever getting treatment, no matter how small they think it is, I need to know. I wanted to get (Scott Hairston) in the lineup the other day, and I was going to take out either Harper or (Denard Span). Knowing that he was getting treatment on his hip, I could’ve given him (Monday) off. Because I wanted to ensure he’s ready to play these next two days and then have Thursday off. It’s very important.

“I always like to know anytime any player gets treatment. I think sometimes players don’t want the manager to know they’re getting treatment, but I need that. It’s part of the information I can use to ensure that they can go through the year injury-free. They might be able to play with that injury, but it also might be better to take a day off, back off and let somebody else (play). I’ve got guys that I’ve got all the confidence in the world sitting on the bench. They need an opportunity to play if somebody’s a little bit under the weather.”