A day after Bryce Harper’s effort on a groundout was questioned by his teammates and bench coach Randy Knorr, manager Davey Johnson elaborated on what he thinks happened in the eighth inning of the Nationals’ loss to the Mets.
Johnson believes Harper was favoring his left knee on the play, the same one that’s been sore since he collided twice with outfield walls back in May. Harper told CSN recently he hasn’t felt as strong since banging his knee, and Johnson now says it’s a concern.
“I think it’s still an issue,” Johnson said. “I think it’s probably there. He can probably play with it, but if he head-first slides or dives in the outfield, it’s probably going to flare up. But hopefully he’ll get through the season.”
Whatever the reason for Harper pulling up early on the ground ball, Johnson plans to have a talk with the 20-year-old about it.
“I don’t know what’s going through his mind. I’ll have a conversation,” he said. “He’s usually 100 percent in. But I’ll talk to him.”
Johnson also reiterated what was discussed back in June when Harper saw Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion, that offseason surgery may be necessary to remove the bursa sac in his knee.
“That was talked about a while back. That’s definitely an option,” Johnson said. “I think it’s going to be up to Bryce and Dr. Wiemi [Douoguih].”
How much Harper’s knee is bothering him isn’t clear, but over the last few weeks he’s been playing his best baseball since April. Over the last 14 days Harper is batting .375 with two home runs, nine RBI and seven walks.
Rendon gets the day off
Steve Lombardozzi is in the Nats’ lineup playing second base as rookie Anthony Rendon gets a day off. Rendon has played 78 games this season already, far more than he ever did as a college player at Rice University or as a minor leaguer in an injury shortened 2012.
Johnson said the Nats may look to give him rest here and there over the next month.
“Some of us think that he should be on an innings limit like some of the pitchers because this is the first season he’s played over 50 games. So that’s all it is,” Johnson said.
“A lot of guys think he might wear down because since we signed him, I think the most he played in a year was maybe 30, 40 games. But I occasionally hear from my coaches, ‘Give him a rest.’”