I wrote not long ago that the Washington Nationals need to protect Bryce Harper from himself so that way he doesn’t do serious damage to his own body. Looks like I spoke too late, and if the Nationals are smart, they will not let Harper on the field for the remainder of the season after recent developments.
On Saturday, Harper did not play against the Miami Marlins due to a hip injury that flared up during pre-game. Harper reportedly dropped to the ground in pain while in the batting cage and was scratched from the lineup. Saturday night, Harper was then flown back to D.C. so he could undergo tests on his hip on Sunday. According to reports, the team is worried that Harper, “may be injured more seriously than initially believed.”
If the Nationals are smart, they’ll sit him for good no matter what the test results are. The playoffs are a distant dream at this point, and it’s time to start looking toward next season. If they keep letting Harper abuse his body like this for the rest of the season, there won’t be a 2014 for arguably the best player in the organization.
Harper’s hip injury first made an appearance, according to Harper, after hitting the outfield wall in Atlanta back in April. Just two weeks later, Harper then collided with the outfield wall in Los Angeles and that collision caused him to miss five weeks of action. A few days ago, the outfielder reportedly said that since then, there has always been something bugging him and he hasn’t been 100 percent.
The biggest problem with all this is that Harper kept going and didn’t tell anybody that he was ailing until three months after the fact. It’s a situation that is similar to Danny Espinosa. Espinosa played with a fractured wrist for three to four weeks before telling anybody. The only difference, Espinosa is now in the minor leagues while Harper is still with the major league ball club.
It’s interesting that the Nationals, a team that has been so vigilant in the way they handle injuries, have let this one slip through like this. You can make a case that since Harper never told anybody you can’t hold them accountable, but the signs were there that something was wrong. He didn’t have his speed and there were times were it was obvious that something was wrong with the 20-year old.
Hopefully, the Nationals have learned their lesson and won’t let him play a single inning for the rest of the season. With less than a month left, there’s no point in letting Harper play and putting him at risk of a more severe injury. His greatest strength, his 100 percent effort, could be his biggest weakness. Harper only knows one gear, and telling him to take it easy and slow down won’t do any good.
Similar to what they did with Stephen Strasburg, they have to sit Bryce Harper. The best way to protect the young outfielder from injury is to simply not let him play at all. At this point, the 2013 postseason has been lost. Don’t let Harper try to be a hero and then end up spoiling next season, as well.