MIAMI — He received an IV before the game. He had to excuse himself during the second inning to go vomit. He felt his head spinning every time he tried to swing a bat. He had to hunch over several times after running the bases.
And Bryce Harper still managed to go 4-for-5 in the Nationals' 6-1 win over the Marlins last night.
Go ahead and add another noteworthy chapter to the 20-year-old's ever-growing book of accomplishments.
Sidelined the previous night with flu-like symptoms, Harper reported to Marlins Park yesterday afternoon feeling better but still not 100 percent healthy. He could have sat once again, but he<!-- more --> insisted to manager Davey Johnson he could start the series finale.
"No, I wanted to play," he said. "My team needed me out there today, and I think I could have helped the team win today. ... I don't really care if I was sick or not, I was going to go out there and play."
Harper clearly didn't look healthy on the field. His face was expressionless, his moved as little as possible in left field and he frequently had to compose himself after exerting too much energy.
"I thought he was going to die every time he went up there," Johnson said. "And then he got a hit."
Indeed, Harper played as though nothing was wrong. He roped three singles and a double, even legging out an infield hit to drive in a run. In the process, he improved to 5-for-6 with two homers and a double this season against Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who came away duly impressed.
"It's to the point where I make a good pitches, and now they're still falling [for hits]," Nolasco said. "I just hope he doesn't turn into Chipper Jones for me, where every time I break his bat or even make good pitches it's still a hit. I'm going to be seeing him a lot, so I'm looking forward to the challenge of getting him out more than he gets me. Good hitter. Great hitter."
Harper, now batting .364 with a 1.090 OPS for the season, said his toughest challenge was staying hydrated, especially when he couldn't keep much food or drink down.
"The whole game I was struggling a little bit," he said. "The second inning, I went down and hacked a little bit and got some things out of my system."
Harper has every reason to believe he'll be back to 100 percent in time for Friday's series opener against the Mets. He was, however, very much looking forward to spending the off-day sleeping in his New York hotel room.
"I think Friday I'll be fine," he said. "Thank goodness we have an off day tomorrow, so I can rest all day long and hopefully get some food in me inside my body. I think I'm behind in that category right now from yesterday."