HARRIS: Break but don’t bend? Bryce Harper quandary rears its head again for Nats

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Two years to the day after he made his debut with the Nationals, Bryce Harper was in the news again.


SEE ALSO: Bryce Harper to have thumb surgery, miss 2 months


This time it wasn’t as exciting. Harper, the Nats’ brilliantly talented prodigy, is hurt again. We may see Fourth of July fireworks before we see Harper patrolling left field again.

The current problem is a thumb that was injured as Harper slid into third with a triple Friday against the San Diego Padres. Surgery is required to fix it and two months seems like an optimistic timetable for a return.

Last season it was a lot of lost time thanks to a knee injury after a collision with a wall while going after a fly ball.

The linebacker mentality is what makes Harper what he is and it is also what makes Harper what it looks like he is going to become: a guy who will have a hard time going a full season without a visit or two the disabled list.

It is a problem with no simple solution because you simply can’t tell Harper to tone it down. Well, you can, but doing so takes the Harper out of Harper.

Would you rather see a Harper who plays with no fear for 120 games a year or a watered-down version for 162 games?

Neither, really, is very palatable.

The Nats go deeper than Harper, obviously, and might be able to survive a long stretch without him if he was the only one missing. Of course, Ryan Zimmerman is also out a while longer after one of his thumbs lost its own battle with a base. Wilson Ramos has been out since Opening Day after a hamate bone injury. While Doug Fister’s debut in the rotation is close, he’s still not been seen on the mound in a Nationals uniform during the regular season. It’s not even May and the Nats are pretty banged up.

Of the injured, Harper is the one people will pay to see first. Even when he’s struggling, he’s fun to watch because you know at any point of the game with him, something crazy or spectacular or both could be about to happen.

Perhaps he will crush a ball so far it has to be seen to be believed, as he did with his first home run of the year.

Perhaps he will gun someone out from the outfield with a ridiculous throw, or send a throw sailing into the next zip code, as he’s done a number of times in his two years in the big leagues.

Or perhaps he will crash into a wall trying to make a catch or dive headfirst into a base trying to stretch a hit and come up injured.

He’s a beauty. He’s a marvel. He’s a risk.

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