Harper’s in­jury exit casts pall over Nats

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY JORGE CASTILLO jorge.castillo@wash­post.com

Out­fielder Bryce Harper ex­ited the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als’ se­ries opener against the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants at Na­tion­als Park late Sat­ur­day night with an ap­par­ent left knee in­jury dur­ing the first in­ning.

The in­jury oc­curred when Harper at­tempted to beat out a ground­ball to the first base­man. The right fielder lunged for first base and slipped on the bag, and his leg ap­peared to buckle awk­wardly. He im­me­di­ately grabbed his left knee while falling to the ground and writhed in pain be­hind first base.

Harper re­mained on the ground for a few min­utes as the ball­park went silent. Hit­ting coach Rick Schu and trainer Paul Les­sard then helped him off the field. Harper didn’t put any weight on his left leg and had his head down as he was as­sisted off the field and through the Na­tion­als dugout.

It was rem­i­nis­cent of the scene in the same area be­hind first base April 28, when Na­tion­als out­fielder Adam Ea­ton sus­tained a sea­son-end­ing knee in­jury, also try­ing to beat out a ground­ball.

The play oc­curred min­utes into a game that started at 10:06 p.m. — af­ter a three-hour one-minute rain de­lay — and which ended too late for this edi­tion. There was no im­me­di­ate up­date on Harper’s con­di­tion.

Ma­jor League Base­ball, not the Na­tion­als, de­cided if and when the game would be played be­cause the Gi­ants don’t re­turn to Wash­ing­ton this sea­son. The league deemed the con­di­tions playable af­ter the rain slowed from its ear­lier lev­els, though the rain con­tin­ued through the first in­ning.

Last sea­son, then-Na­tion­als catcher Wil­son Ramos suf­fered a torn an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment af­ter a rain de­lay one week be­fore the play­offs started.

MICHAEL OWENS/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

The Na­tion­als’ Bryce Harper grips his left knee late Sat­ur­day night af­ter slip­ping on first base while try­ing to beat out a ground­ball.

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