WASHINGTON (AP) — Bryce Harper sustained what appeared to be a serious left knee injury when he slipped on a wet first base and his left leg buckled while running out a grounder early in the Washington Nationals’ 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night.
Harper clutched at his knee while on the wet field and put no weight on his left leg as he was helped off. The 2015 NL MVP left the game immediately, and manager Dusty Baker said Harper hyperextended his knee.
“He was in obvious pain and he was praying and I was praying, too,” said manager Dusty Baker, adding that Harper would have an MRI.
“I’m asking for prayers that it’s not serious,” Baker said.
The result of the game meant little for Washington, which leads the NL East by 14½ games, or San Francisco, which is out of contention. It didn’t begin until 10:06 p.m. after another extended weather delay, and it was raining when Harper lost his footing on a base that had water on it.
Bryce Harper carried off the field. pic.twitter.com/N1nwZNcHGa— Barno (@DCBarno) August 13, 2017
Baker refrained from criticizing the league, saying the teams “were kind of at the mercy of the schedule.”
The Nationals lost catcher Wilson Ramos to a torn ACL in his right knee in late September last season, another noncontact injury that came after a rain delay in Washington.
If Harper is out, it’s a more devastating injury to the Nationals’ World Series hopes than when Ramos’ season ended prematurely a year ago. Harper is hitting .326 with 29 home runs and 87 RBI as the most fearsome hitter in the league.
With Harper out, the Nationals got their offense in the form of RBI doubles from Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Lind, and an RBI single from Daniel Murphy off Giants starter Jeff Samardzjia (7-12).
Right-hander Edwin Jackson (3-2) allowed one earned run on five hits and struck out five in six innings before giving way to Washington’s newfound lockdown bullpen trio of Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle.
Harper was limping but walking after the game. He was not made available to speak to reporters.
Jackson was upbeat that Harper was walking around. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo is expected to provide an update on Sunday morning.
“Fortunate that he’s up and walking,” Jackson said. “He’s definitely one of those guys that you can’t replace on a team. It’s crazy but it’s definitely great to see him up in spirit and walking around and know that he won’t be significantly out for a period of time or just hurt period. He’s doing great.”
Bryce Harper is up and walking around without much of a limp. Had his leg wrapped below the knee but no brace or anything.— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) August 13, 2017
Harper is under contract through next season and can be a free agent in the winter of 2018.
“The good thing is he’s young and strong,” Baker said. “I’m very optimistic that he’ll be at least fine shortly.”
With the Nationals cruising toward another playoff appearance and Lind and Brian Goodwin playing well, manager Dusty Baker was asked what he might do when Jayson Werth (bruised left foot) and Michael Taylor (strained right oblique) are healthy.
“I thought about it but not in-depth because there’s so many things that can happen between now and then,” Baker said, roughly seven hours before Harper went down. The Nationals have already used 12 outfielders this season.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy wanted to make sure Mark Melancon’s first appearance off the disabled list didn’t come in a high-leverage situation after the $62 million closer missed more than six weeks with a right forearm strain. He was able to do that, as Melancon allowed one hit and had one strikeout against his most recent team in the eighth inning, his first work since June 27.
Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg will make a minor league rehab start Monday at Class A Potomac.
Strasburg has been on the disabled list since late July with a right elbow nerve impingement. Pitching coach Mike Maddux said that Strasburg is likely to throw about five innings and 75 pitches in his first rehab outing.
Strasburg took part in a simulated game earlier in the week, and Maddux said the 29-year-old looked “really good” and now has to build up his stamina.
Giants: To make room on the roster for Melancon, the INF Miguel Gomez went on the 10-day DL, retroactive to Aug. 9, with right knee inflammation.
Nationals: Strasburg is one of 11 Nationals players currently on the DL, and Baker doesn’t want to rush anyone back. Baker said outfielder Taylor doesn’t have his timing yet and reliever Shawn Kelley (back) isn’t as sharp as trainers would like yet. … Enny Romero (forearm strain) is playing catch, and Baker said he’s hopeful the lefty is back soon.
RHP A.J Cole (1-2, 5.63 ERA) starts the day game of a split-doubleheader for the Nationals against Giants RHP Chris Stratton (0-2, 6.63). Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (12-5, 2.23) had his choice which game to pitch and preferred night, and he’ll face San Francisco LHP Matt Moore (3-12, 5.88).
© 2017 Associated Press