Bryce Harper is out of the Nationals lineup against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday after leaving Sunday’s game in the seventh inning with an aggravated sore knee. An MRI showed no structural damage for Harper, but he has been diagnosed with bursitis.
Team Medical Director Wiemi Douogiuh said a few days rest is the best course of action at this point.
“Bryce has got some inflammation of a bursa sac in the front of his knee,” Douogiuh said. “It has nothing to do with the joint. We got an MRI that just showed some soft tissue swelling, soft tissue edema. We anticipate it’s going to clear up in a couple of days. There is nothing structurally wrong with his knee.”
Harper said on Sunday he did not plan to miss any time, but Davey Johnson and the Nationals decided it was best to have him sit.
“If you were seeing the same thing I was seeing, he was hurting even when he came into the dugout,” Johnson said.
“I think it’s just uncomfortable -- it’s like an inflammation. We just need to let it calm down. It was a little more swollen today.”
Team trainer Lee Kuntz said the Nats are most concerned at this point with Harper re-injuring the knee.
“There’s always a risk of a guy with that re-injuring because if you bump it, it flares up again. You’ll see a lot of people get the same thing on their elbow. They bump their elbow and it blows up. The idea is to just get it settled down now, put it to bed and we’ll go from there.”
Kuntz likened the injury to those suffered by tile workers who spend long days on their knees. The only prescription is to take time off and let the swelling subside.
Douogiuh said that surgery is not a consideration at this point, but it remains a possibility if the swelling gets worse.
“The worst-case scenario is that it swells up and then it needs to be drained or even have that sac surgically removed. That’s something we want to avoid, and that’s why we’re shutting him down,” he said.
“From a structural standpoint, it’s not harming any of the ligaments or tendons or cartilage in his knee, so that’s what we’re most concerned about. But we’re trying to control it so it doesn’t advance to the point that we don’t need to take that sac out take fluid out.”
Harper said on Sunday he fears he could be dealing with pain all season, that it wouldn’t get better until the year is over. Kuntz said that is exactly what they hope a few days rest can prevent in the longrun.
“That’s why we want to get this thing put down, to get that worry out of his mind and our minds,” he said.
“Once this thing is better, it should be better,” Douogiuh said. “I shouldn’t bother him. Sometimes it can nag and go on for a couple of weeks, sometimes it will go down in 48 hours. We’ll just have to treat it and watch it and see.”
Harper is unlikely to be in the lineup on Tuesday as the Nats medical staff monitors the swelling. On Wednesday the team travels to Baltimore where Harper could potentially be the designated hitter. Douogiuh and Kuntz said that was a baseball decision and left it up to Johsnon. The Nats skipper said it was possible.
“DHing would probably be good; he wouldn’t run into walls,” Johnson said.
Douogiuh on Danny Espinosa’s right wrist:
“He did have some findings on the initial x-ray, but it was away from where he was sore. We thought it may have been old, it wasn’t bothering him. Then a couple of weeks ago he developed new pain in a new location that was around where the bone chips were. That’s where we became more concerned.”
“The bone chip he has is almost like a bruise, it’s not like a fracture as we would normally think of as a broken bone. It’s something that tells us that something is wrong there, but structurally everything else is sound there in his wrist.”
Douogiuh on Jayson Werth’s right hamstring:
“It’s been a challenge because when he developed the hamstring problem, he also had this problem with the bowel issue and dehydration, so he had a lot of cramping. It was hard to tell whether some of it was induced by the cramping and the dehydration or whether it was strictly a hamstring injury.”
“He is getting better and we anticipate he’ll be on track for coming back some time next week. Again, we can’t tell, we just have to take it one day at a time. Yesterday he looked good, we’re going to go to the next phase. Then hopefully we’ll get him out to some rehab starts over the next few days.”
“He’s been running sprints. He’s been working on strengthening it, hasn’t really had any pain. Was having some pain in other sites away from where the actual hamstring was and I think that was just from the training and the other exercise he was doing. But he looked good yesterday and we’ll just have to take it one day at a time.”
Douogiuh on Wilson Ramos’ left hamstring:
“It could take as long as six weeks. The hamstring, we put a timeline on it, but each person’s different and you can have a terrible hamstring on an MRI and you can recover more quickly, and you can have a minor hamstring on an MRI and it takes longer. So we don’t really know. We do know that both of those guys, Wilson and Jayson, are progressing according to our schedules and we hope that they’ll be back as soon as possible.”
“When he came back, he was pain-free and had gone through a standard regimen of hamstring rehabilitation and met all his milestones and we felt he was ready. And when there’s a setback like that, we tend to be more conservative and give it more time.”