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Bryce Harper needs thumb surgery, could miss more than two months

Apr 28, 2014, 6:02 PM EST

bryce harper getty Getty Images

Bryce Harper‘s head-first slide into third base Friday will likely cost him at least two months, as Keith Law of ESPN.com reports that the Nationals outfielder needs surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb and is unlikely to play again before July.

Harper, who was benched by manager Matt Williams last week for a lack of hustle, was off to a modest start by hitting .289 with one homer and a .722 OPS through 22 games.

Washington brought in Nate McLouth this offseason specifically to address outfield depth, paying a premium to sign him for a part-time role. And now he’ll be in a full-time role as Harper’s replacement after logging a total of just 43 plate appearances so far. McLouth hit .258 with 12 homers and a .729 OPS in 146 games for the Orioles last season, so while he’s a solid all-around player he can’t come close to replacing Harper’s upside and overall impact.

UPDATE: Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com confirms the 6-8 week recovery timetable, so missing the remainder of the first half seems like a real possibility.

  1. goskinsvt - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    I hate everything.

  2. onbucky96 - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:09 PM

    The Nats could make this work by 1st shutting Harper down for the yr to heal the thumb, not risk tweaking it a la Brewers & Braun. 2, FIRE MATT WILLIAMS.

    • apkyletexas - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:21 PM

      Wrong.

      Starling Marte did the same thing last year with the Pirates, was out the same 6-8 weeks, and came back and was a big part of their playoff push the second half of the season.

      Once the thumb is healed and strong, there is no reason to sideline him for the rest of the year. It’s not going to get “more healed”.

      • Old Gator - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:43 PM

        Um…apky…I think onbucky was just yanking your “bench Stephen Strasburg after 160 innings” chain there….

      • apkyletexas - Apr 28, 2014 at 9:01 PM

        Probly. If so – excellent trolling!

  3. clydeserra - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:16 PM

    But he showed hustle. and that is all that counts

  4. stoutfiles - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:32 PM

    Mr. Glass.

  5. raysfan1 - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:36 PM

    Shouldn’t it technically be called a hand-first slide?

  6. pinkfloydprism - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    Bruce Hyper

    • yahmule - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:42 PM

      However you feel about him, this is a pretty elegant smackname.

      • pinkfloydprism - Apr 28, 2014 at 9:11 PM

        I actually like him, and think he will be a great player. But, all that hype is not currently in his favor.

  7. DelawarePhilliesFan - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:50 PM

    Ohhhhh…..why did CC have make that post making us consider our words more carefully??

    Okay, that lead in and of itself is snarky enough – sorry fellow fans to the south :). This will be interesting how to plays out vis-à-vis Williams. If nothing else, I bet he wishes he didn’t say what he did in his presser

  8. nbjays - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:50 PM

    Poor Bryce Harper can’t win. If he takes it easy, he gets benched for lack of hustle; if he hustles, he ends up getting hurt. He needs to find an in-between speed that will keep everyone happy. He’s a good ballplayer, but he needs to find some sort of equilibrium in his style of play.

    • peymax1693 - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:37 PM

      Sorry, but I don’t consider running out a triple as an example of hustling. Have we gotten to the point that running hard out of the box is now considered hustling?

      • yahmule - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:44 PM

        I never run willingly.

      • nbjays - Apr 29, 2014 at 7:58 AM

        Considering how few players actually do it every time, I’d have to say yes.

      • peymax1693 - Apr 29, 2014 at 8:44 AM

        nbjays:

        Sadly, I think you might be right

  9. themuddychicken - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    “Personally, I think this will be a blessing in disguise for him.”

    -John Kruk, on Bryce Harper needing and getting surgery that will keep him out until July.

  10. indaburg - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    UCL injury strikes again. This time, it is the thumb. Damn you, UCLs.

    (In case you’re wondering, we have another UCL to injure in the wrist.)

    • raysfan1 - Apr 28, 2014 at 10:03 PM

      Darn all 3 types of UCLs being injured! Darn them to heck!

  11. paul621 - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:23 PM

    Did Williams actually say Harper didn’t “hustle”? I thought Williams cited the fact that Harper didn’t run at all–that is, a jog to first would have kept him in the game. The whole “he got in trouble for not hustling, then got hurt hustling” thing seems manufactured.

    • roundballsquarebox24 - Apr 29, 2014 at 8:36 AM

      He did jog to first. His stroll down the line was no different than most other guys would have done on that comebacker that was in the pitcher’s glove before Bryce was done with the follow-though on his swing. Did he run hard out of the box? Absolutely not, but he didn’t just turn around and start walking into the dugout immediately a-la Puig a few weeks ago (and I actually like Puig, but I would have benched him for that).

  12. goskinsvt - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    Well there goes the ‘HE SHOULDA SLID FEET FIRST’ narrative

    • gothapotamus90210 - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:34 PM

      Clown study, bro.

  13. proudlycanadian - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    This is almost identical to Josh Hamilton’s injury.

  14. keltictim - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:33 PM

    That’s it, we need to outlaw the head first dive to save these played from themselves. How many more injuries needlessly need to happen before baseball outlaws this barbaric play? Mr Selig should be ashamed of himself. Perhaps a class action lawsuit is what’s needed so all the former players whose careers were ruined, thanks to this senseless play, can get the financial relief they so richly deserve.

  15. jrbdmb - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    Nothing good comes from hustling.

  16. gothapotamus90210 - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    Are we headed towards break-away bases like little league?

  17. stercuilus65 - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    He is a delicate flower. I bet the jock sniffers still vote him in as an all star starter….

  18. keltictim - Apr 28, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    Didn’t Pedroia suffer the same injury last year, but gutted it out the whole year rather than miss any extended time? His numbers suffered, but I believe they were still in line with the league average.

    • yahmule - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:58 AM

      About all that suffered was his home run rate. Everything else was pretty much in line with his career numbers.

  19. bronx77 - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:24 AM

    I thought this year he would break out. Maybeeee not…

  20. jss1330 - Apr 29, 2014 at 5:58 AM

    According to Law, “because Harper didn’t fully run out a routine ground ball”

    Fully? Part of playing pro sports is giving effort on every play. I don’t think this qualifies as effort.

  21. keltictim - Apr 29, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    I coulda swore all his numbers were down. If your right, that’s even more impressive on Dustin’s part.

  22. goodellisruiningtheleague - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    Stick a fork in the Nationals they’re done.

    DC superstars are all fragile, Strasburg, Harper, RG3

    • big64d - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      The Nationals are replacing Harper with Nate Dog McClouth so I think they got the East on lock and hello NLCS!

    • nolanwiffle - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      ….Ovechkin, Wall, Beal, Kerrigan, Morris……no, wait……….that didn’t work.

  23. big64d - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    So how long will people be saying Bryce Harper’s only (insert age here) to back up claims about his lack of production. Now will it change to he would have won a MVP but he got hurt? Or maybe he would have hit .319, 23 homerun’s and 109 RBI but he’s not Freddie Freeman!!

    • goodellisruiningtheleague - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      He has as many World Series rings as Freeman though

      • big64d - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:10 PM

        Harper has a bigger bulge
        #swag

  24. ayoforyayo - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    I’m not worried, he’s still only 16 years old. He has plenty of time to get healthy and win a few MVP’s. Maybe by the time he gradates high school they will invent a softer outfield wall and bags so he can stay healthy and win not 1, not 2, but possibly 3 championships. I believe in you Bruce, get healthy and show the haters what you’ve got!

    • big64d - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:13 PM

      I heard he hit a ball a half mile with a metal bat. Doing the quick math that would be a quarter mile with a wood bat.
      #ThumbHustle

      • ayoforyayo - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:28 PM

        You might possibly be the most ignorant person I’ve met on the world wide web. You’re probably just jealous of his ability to bounce back after running into a wall. I bet you’ve never even ran into a wall. I run into walls on a daily basis and let me tell you, it’s no picnic in the park.

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