The Washington Times - September 3, 2013, 01:01AM

PHILADELPHIA — At times during the past two games, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has appeared to be in pain. He has not run with his usual explosion, and occasionally appeared to be limping.

On Monday night, after exhibiting signs of an injury, first base coach Tony Tarasco and right fielder Jayson Werth separately checked with Harper to see if he felt good enough to continue.

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The precise issue has been difficult to discern. Harper insists the bursitis in his left knee that cost him 31 games on the disabled list earlier this season is not an issue but Sunday night he hinted there were other aches and pains.

Monday night, after the Nationals’ 3-2 loss, manager Davey Johnson revealed he’d recently learned the 20-year-old has been receiving treatment on one of his hips.

Johnson was unhappy he had not been told sooner, but it didn’t appear to affect his plans to keep Harper in the lineup.

“I was a little disturbed that I wasn’t informed that he was having some treatment on his hip,” Johnson said. “But every time anybody talks to Harp, he says: ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine.’ So I’m going to stick with him.”

Harper declined to acknowledge any specific issue, instead reiterating what he has told anyone else who has inquired.

“I’m fine,” Harper said. “Just like I told (Johnson). If I was hurting, I’d come out of the game. I feel good.”

Harper cited the amount of time left in the Nationals’ season — which is down to 25 games barring a playoff berth — and said “I’m going to play as hard as I can and just worry about it at the end.”

Despite appearing gimpy at times, Harper still played all nine innings on Monday night, starting in center field and shifting to left field in the eighth inning.

He was 1-for-3 with a walk, which set-up a bases-loaded situation for Scott Hairston. Hairston hit a sacrifice fly that briefly gave the Nationals a 2-1 lead.

Johnson said he planned to play Harper on Tuesday.

“He still had a heck of a ballgame,” Johnson said. “Had a walk, a base hit. I’m more concerned about him being available the next day when I have some options. But he’s a tough kid. That’s the way he is.

“I thought about (pulling him). Tarasco asked him and he said he’s OK. Werth asked him and he said he can play. So I left him in.”