Will Bryce Harper Return To Washington Nationals In 2013?

By James Williams
Brad Mills – USA Today Sports

The  Washington Nationals are sending 20-year old superstar Bryce Harper back home to Washington for tests on both his ailing hip and his knee. Now that the team is unlikely to make it to the postseason, they want Harper to address his health issues as soon as possible.

Harper was scratched from Saturday night’s game with the Miami Marlins after he was in pain following a short stint in the batting cage. He will leave the team in Miami this morning and begin the process of exploring the extent of his injuries as soon as later this afternoon.

The Nationals’ medical team is headed by renowned orthopedist Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, and he will oversee Harper’s testing today at the Washington Hospital Center. Should it be determined by Dr. Douoguih that he wants a second opinion on what medical issues face Harper, he can call on a friend and colleague for some help.

Dr. James Andrews, the other “Super Doc,” will be in town serving in his role as a special medical adviser to the Washington Redskins. He might have time if needed to see Harper, but his main focus on Monday will be his star patient Robert Griffin. III. Harper saw  Dr.Andrews at the request of Dr. Douoguih back in June, and neither man saw any serious damage or career-threatening issues at that time.

It is important to note that Harper’s injuries are one’s that requires more treatment and rest than major surgery. This all stems from his colliding with the right field wall at Turner Field back in April in a game against the Atlanta Braves.

The injury was then made worse after his now-famous “face plant” into the right field wall at Dodger Stadium back in May in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. All told, Harper has missed 32 games from the injuries that were sustained from those two incidents.

One key reason that no one thinks that Harper’s injury is too serious is how he has played while hurt. His .882 OPS would rank ninth all-time among players 20 or younger, and he ranks third on the Nationals with 19 homers — hardly numbers that show a serious injury.

That said, having Harper go through a series of tests now is the right thing to do for his long-term health, as well his ability to be at his best in 2014 for the Nationals. Though Harper would surely want to be on the field, I think it is time that Dr. Douoguih be the one who decides if and when Harper returns to the Nationals at all in 2013.

Related stories:

Do the Nationals need to protect Bryce Harper?
Nationals Lose A Key Piece As Bryce Harper Will Not Play Tonight

Rant Sports columnist James Williams is a seven time Emmy Award winning producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter at @Wordmandc   or join his Google + group.     

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