This sentence isn’t one you wanted to read, but Washington Nationals prospect Bryce Harper has been sidelined for the past three games because of an apparent bone bruise.
“He’s playable,” Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. “If it was Ryan Zimmerman, he would be playing. He would be playing if he was a big leaguer. But there’s no need for him to be playing uncomfortable.”
It’s always a bit of a scare when we see one of the team’s franchise players goes down with any injury, even if it is one described as a “bruise.” But given our recent history of bad luck with our top prospects (Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann’s Tommy John surgeries), it’s understandable that fans are a bit cautious.
Rizzo makes a good point here though, reminding us all that since the 18-year-old Harper isn’t being rushed to the big leagues, there’s no reason to rush him back to the field. Development time is important, but a small injury now could turn into a major injury in July and August if it gets exacerbated by overuse.
The Nats are simply giving the kid a rest.
Harper is now 280 at bats into his first professional season, which is a lot for an 18-year-old who should have just finished his senior year of high school. Last season en route to winning the Golden Spikes award at the College of Southern Nevada, Harper only had 228 at bats, which means he is now working into uncharted territory.
Don’t be surprised if a few more nicks show up throughout the season that force him to skip a few more games, and don’t be shocked if the club shuts him down a little bit earlier in the summer than everyone else.