Mark Zuckerman talks about Bryce Harper's trip to the DL
ATLANTA — Though he only was placed on the disabled list yesterday with a knee injury suffered when he crashed into the fence in Los Angeles on May 13, Bryce Harper admitted this morning he probably should have gone on the DL two weeks earlier after a less-serious collision with the fence in Atlanta.
"I think after I hit the wall here, I think I should have went on the DL, just try to get better and came back 15 days later," Harper said, referring to his April 29 encounter with the right-field fence at Turner Field. "With a lot of guys out, I wanted to stay in the lineup the way I was swinging it. Of course, I want to play every day. It's something that, maybe I'll learn more in my career to take off 15 days instead of lose the month or whatever it is."
Harper didn't miss any time following that initial play here in Atlanta, in which he bruised his left side trying to catch Tim Hudson's homer off the tip of his glove. But his performance immediately suffered.
In 25 games before the Turner Field play, Harper was hitting .356 with a 1.181 OPS and one home run per 10 at-bats. In 19 games since, he's hitting .183 with a .665 OPS and one homer per 20 at-bats.
Harper, though, felt he could play through the initial pain and didn't take a seat until after he rammed into the right-field wall at Dodger Stadium, a far more severe collision that drew national attention.
The worst injury to come out of that play was a swollen left knee, which was aggravated one week ago when Harper twice slid into bases against the Phillies, and finally landed him on the DL this weekend. But he also admitted today he's still hurting in several other parts of his body, which will now get a chance to heal while he sits for at least nine more days. He's eligible to return June 11 against the Rockies.
"It lets everything heal: my hand, my wrist, my side, everything," he said. "So that's good. Hopefully I'll come back and I'll be full-strength and I'll get going, hopefully against Colorado."
Six days of rest so far haven't done much to alleviate the knee injury, diagnosed by the Nationals as bursitis.
"I feel the same as I did the other day," he said. "It's still swollen and crappy. Just trying to get treatment and see if the swelling will go down."
Harper is restricted from doing any physical activity until at least mid-week, possibly later, at which point he hopes to resume some baseball activities.
Sitting and watching from the dugout hasn't been an enjoyable experience for the 20-year-old, who has watched his teammates go 3-10 when he's not in the starting lineup this season. Harper, though, understands it's better to take care of this now than let it linger and perhaps hinder him much later in the year.
"If we're in September, October, I'm going to play," he said. "I wouldn't be sitting out right now. It's just one of those things where you've got to be smart about what you do. Just try to come in every day and get better and do things the right way."