Yes, you read that title right. Do the Washington Nationals need to protect Bryce Harper from Bryce Harper? If recent reports are any indication, the answer to that question is yes.
Wednesday, reports surfaced from various Washington D.C. media outlets that Bryce Harper has been playing through hip pain since he ran into the outfield walls in Atlanta and Los Angeles. After hitting the wall in Los Angeles, Harper was placed on the disabled list for five weeks.
Since then, Harper said yesterday that he has had nagging injuries. He told members of the media that it’s been something different bothering him everyday and it’s been happening ever since those two collisions. Harper admitting to those nagging injuries is what caused him to be left out of yesterday’s lineup.
The scary thing is that Harper never told anybody about this until recently. While it’s admirable and noble to play through the pain, at some point you just have to admit it that you’re hurt. You need to protect yourself. Your teammates will still respect you if recognize that you would do more harm than good by trying to play through the pain.
Statistically, we haven’t really seen a drop off. While he got off to a lightening fast start to the season, he’s leveled off and in August his numbers got a little bit better. What we have seen, though, is a lack of effort on some plays. He’s walked out of the batters box, been slow at times in the outfield and has been thrown out trying to stretch singles into doubles and doubles into triples. He hasn’t been the fiery teenager that we’ve come to know and love.
He’s a gamer and is all about the team. He knows that he plays a key role on the Nationals and doesn’t want to let them down. However, maybe the Nationals should be the ones that step in and essentially say, “It’s okay, Bryce. Take a break, buddy.”
Much like they did Stephen Strasburg last year, they have to protect Bryce Harper. Whether that means sitting him down a few more times before the season is over just shutting him down all together, he’s starting to play recklessly rather than aggressively.
Let’s face it, the Washington Nationals have a very slim chance at making the playoffs. According the ESPN.com they have a 2.6 percent chance of playing in October. Personally, I don’t like their odds especially when they’re schedule to end the season against the Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks. It would be devastating to the franchise and fan base if they allowed Harper to keep going and he got seriously injured
The Nationals are built, designed and set up for having success long into the future. With the way Bryce Harper keeps using and abusing his body, he may not be around to contribute to that success which would be a huge loss for them. They need to figure out some way to protect him. Whether it’s sitting for a few games throughout the remainder of the season or having a serious chat with him, something has to be done.