WASHINGTON – Bryce Harper was not pleased with the wet, rainy conditions under which he suffered a left knee injury that could have ended his season.
After a rainout on Friday and a 3-hour rain delay Saturday, the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants began the first game of their series shortly after 10 p.m. ET on Saturday. With the Giants not scheduled to return to Washington this season, Major League Baseball controlled the game times and starts for the three games at Nationals Park.
And so it was under wet conditions that Harper, the NL MVP favorite and Nationals franchise player, sprinted down the first base line to try and beat out an infield single in the first inning Saturday. He hit the bag and launched awkwardly into the air, the grotesque ballet causing fans and Harper himself to fear the worst.
Harper was diagnosed with a severe bone bruise, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Sunday, and Harper’s knee remained structurally sound. That makes a return this season likely – perhaps in the four-to-six week range often seen in injuries of this nature, which would bring him back before the start of the National League Division Series Oct. 6.
Harper was relieved in addressing reporters Sunday – that unlike teammate Adam Eaton, who tore an ACL in April, he’ll probably return this season.
And he also was not happy about yet another Nationals Park rain delay putting him and others in danger.
“I don’t like wet bases,” Harper said between games of Sunday’s doubleheader with the Giants.
“When I went down, I was kind of in shock at the same time of being in the pain of my knee and feeling what I did. I thought about Eaton of course, him going down and all the injuries that you do see.
“Then I thought to myself, it’s 10 o’clock at night and we’re playing the game in the rain. So I was really upset about that as well. But you know, it’s just a freak accident, a freak situation.
“It flashes before your eyes and then you realize there’s nothing you can do. It’s part of the game, part of sports. You hope for the best, pray for the best and I think got the best possible news we could.”
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Rizzo said he did not second-guess MLB’s decision to start Saturday’s game.
“No pun intended, it was a perfect storm,” Rizzo said Sunday. “You had a team from the other coast that’s not coming back anymore. MLB controls those games and the grounds crew did a magnificent job getting the field ready. It’s something that happened; it’s baseball and we have to roll with that.
“I think the integrity of the game is you should play 162 games. Every decision we make – MLB, the players’ association and this organization is with the players’ (welfare) in mind and we’ll continue to do that.”
Harper acknowledged as much as well, noting there wasn’t much that could be changed to alter a 162-game season, schedule, Mother Nature’s fickle ways and summers in the mid-Atlantic.
“Too bad we don’t have a roof,” he said.
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