PHILADELPHIA — Davey Johnson walked into the training room early Wednesday afternoon and found Bryce Harper again receiving treatment on his sore left hip. Though Harper looked less gimpy in Tuesday’s game, it was clear the issue is not going away or vastly improving.
Johnson was straight with him.
“I know you want to play,” Johnson told Harper. “And you know I want you to play. But is it bad? Is it barking?”
Harper, who has given Johnson nothing but thumbs ups and insisted he’s fine for the last few days, despite often looking like he is in pain on the field, gave in.
“He said: ‘It’s barking,’” Johnson said. “(I said) ‘OK, you’re off.’ So it was that easy. Or that tough, however you want to put it.”
Harper has started every game since Aug. 17, and he has not missed an entire game since July 24. He has battled injury, however, pretty much throughout the season, including missing 31 games on the disabled list with bursitis in his left knee.
While most point to his gruesome collision with the right field wall at Dodger Stadium as the culprit, Harper is often quick to point out his previous collision, with the right field wall in Atlanta at the end of April, as the start of his issues.
Despite all of that, Harper has hit .275 this season with a .378 on-base percentage and .507 slugging percentage.
“It’s been tough,” Johnson said. “He’s still awful young and he’s still learning the league and pitchers. This is an important time for him. It’s a shame that he hasn’t been 100 percent healthy.”
Johnson was, however, pleased that Harper was honest about the way he was feeling on Wednesday. Combined with the Nationals’ off-day on Thursday, the hope is two full days of rest will go a long way toward helping him feel a bit better by Friday’s opener in Miami.
“I’m a firm believer that if somebody has had a little aggravation, if it’s bothering him a little bit, I’m going to rest him,” Johnson said. “It could lead to a bigger injury and then he misses more time. I’ve always done that. But he’s still young. I saw him over there in the game and then of course in the training room last night and he said: ‘I’m fine.’ But then today he was getting treatment, so I knew something was wrong.”
Here are the full lineups for the Nationals finale here at Citizens Bank Park:
Denard Span CF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Jayson Werth RF
Adam LaRoche 1B
Ian Desmond SS
Wilson Ramos C
Corey Brown LF
Steve Lombardozzi 2B
Jordan Zimmermann P
Cesar Hernandez CF
Jimmy Rollins SS
Chase Utley 2B
Carlos Ruiz C
Darin Ruf 1B
Cody Asche 3B
John Mayberry Jr. LF
Roger Bernadina RF
Roy Halladay P