Are The Washington Nationals Hiding The Severity of Bryce Harper's Injury?

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 season for the Washington Nationals has been one riddled with injuries, the most notable being Bryce Harper‘s left knee.

Harper has been sidelined with what is being called “knee bursitis” after crashing into the outfield walls against the Atlanta Braves and most notably the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, the timetable for his return to action has been awkward, to say the least.

In the days following his last game on May 26, the Nationals were taking a day-to-day approach. Manager Davey Johnson told reporters that he expected Harper to play on May 31. However, that did not happen and Johnson changed his tune and said that the outfielder may not even play at all that week.

Then, on June 1, Harper was placed on the 15-day DL that was retroactive to May 27. The Nationals did that with the hope that he would return on June 11, stuck to their plan and said that the youngster would be resuming baseball activities on June 6.

That did not happen. Following a meeting between Dr. James Andrew and Harper on June 10, the Nationals brass told reporters that Dr. Andrews simply agreed with their original diagnosis of knee bursitis.

On June 11, Harper was reportedly given cortisone shots and platelet-rich plasma and the Nationals training staff decided to shut him down another week. A few days later, they had him test out his knee prior to the Nationals taking on the Philadelphia Phillies. It was then that they decided the sophomore would be able to begin “ground-based activities.”

“Ground-based activities”? That does not sound like the type of rehab you go through following 22 consecutive days with no planned rehab activity done. Furthermore, photographs surfaced on Twitter of Harper in a knee-brace, which Nationals trainers quickly tried to debunk by saying that the brace was to remind him to stay off his knee and to help ease the pressure on it when he walked.

For a normal adult, SummitMedicalGroup.com says that knee bursitis should heal completely within a few weeks. It’s easy for one to assume that a 20-year-old MLB athlete like Bryce Harper should have recovered faster than the few weeks, especially with the sophisticated treatment that comes with playing for a major league ball club.

According to various Washington D.C. based reporters, the plan for these “ground-based activities” is to start Harper off with walking, then move to jogging, then running and then baseball activities. The Nationals have not yet announced a timetable for his return, but, according to MASN’s Dan Kolko, they feel he could move through rehab quickly.

More often than you might expect, professional sports teams try to downplay the severity of an athlete’s injury, especially that of a star player. It’s easy to see why, though. They simply don’t want the heightened and sometimes negative media attention that comes with it.

For right now, there is no timetable for Harper’s return. If his injury was as minor as they were making it seem, one would have guessed that he would have been back by now.

For the Nationals’ sake, hopefully Harper’s injury is just knee bursitis and is taking a little longer to heal. The team need him back badly, as they don’t have any players on their available roster right now that can provide the same amount of firepower and provide the spark that he can.

Brian Skinnell is an MLB and NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.