Column: Harper has big day but gets injured
Friday night's matchup between the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres was both a reason to celebrate and a cause of worry for National fans. Washington blew out San Diego in an 11-1 victory.
Heavily contributing to the win was Washington outfielder Bryce Harper, who hit a base-clearing triple. It was Harper's best game of the season, as he drove in four runs.
Unfortunately, Harper paid. On his triple, Harper made a head-first dive into third base, jamming his left thumb on the base. He tried playing but was taken out an inning later. Sunday, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Monday night, he met with a specialist who delivered the devastating news that he tore his ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb and would require surgery, keeping him out for the next two months.
Before knowing the extent of his injury, Harper told ESPN, "It's part of baseball. You slide into the bag and sometimes you get your fingers" (ESPN).
Replacing Harper was Nate McLouth, who was picked up by Washington this winter on a two-year, $10.5 million contract. At the time it seemed like an expensive signing as the Nationals already had three other outfielders. Today, fans are thankful for the pickup. McLouth has played 20 games this season, with 34 at-bats and batting an average of .118. He is happy to be out on the field, but disappointed in the circumstances.
McLouth told The Washington Post, "The way he (Harper) plays, things like that can happen, and I mean that in a good way."
Harper has been known for his incredible speed and daring moves on the field. As a young player he possesses a lot of hustle and love for the game. The 21-year-old star played only 118 games last season due to knee and hip injuries. In the off-season he underwent successful knee surgery, making him eager to return this year. He had a strong start to this season, batting .289. The 21-year-old has received multiple awards throughout his career, including the 2010 Golden Spikes Award, given to the best amateur baseball player. After his MLB debut with the Nationals in 2012, Harper was selected for that year's All-Star Game, making him the youngest position player ever selected.
Harper joins four others on the National's Disabled List: starting catcher Wilson Ramos, starting pitcher Doug Fister, starting third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and outfielder Scott Hairston. Fortunately for the Nationals, they are approaching many off days in the weeks to come. However, the injury comes at a horrible time, as Harper will likely miss the Nationals series with the Atlanta Braves series in early June. The two teams are long time rivals, always providing for an interesting and exciting games.
Despite his positive attitude, Harper said to ESPN, "It's frustrating, I want to be out there and able to help my team win everyday." The Nationals and their fans empathize with Harper and eagerly await his return.
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