WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper left Thursday night's game due to a mild left hamstring strain, but even so, there's already some relief within the Washington clubhouse. Harper was removed from the 5-3 loss to the Rays in the sixth inning with the injury, and he is a listed as day to day.
It appeared at first as though Harper's injury might be something much more serious, such as a significant injury to his left knee. Harper missed more than a month in 2013 due to a left knee injury. Harper didn't rule out a day off on Friday against the Pirates, but beyond that, it's unclear how much time he will miss.
With the Nationals up, 3-2, Asdrubal Cabrera singled to right field. Harper tried to throw out Logan Forsythe at the plate, but he slipped and threw the ball into the Rays' dugout, allowing Steven Souza Jr. to score and Cabrera to reach third.
"I put all the pressure on the left knee," Harper said. "I got my lower hamstring in the knee a little bit. It didn't feel very good. I was in pretty good pain. I was scared at the same time. I could feel a little more on the lower half of it. We'll see how I am with it tomorrow, and we'll go from there."
Wet grass in the outfield likely contributed to Harper's fall.
"Conditions are conditions," said manager Matt Williams. "It's unfortunate that it happened. We have a game to play tomorrow."
After making the throw, Harper stayed on the ground for several minutes while Williams and athletic trainer Lee Kuntz came to his aid. Harper was taken out of the game and replaced by Clint Robinson. Harper was charged with an error on the play.
It would be a significant blow to the Nationals if Harper is out for any lengthy period. He leads the team in almost every offensive category including home runs, RBIs, runs scored, and on-base percentage.
Harper was 1-for-3 with an RBI before exiting the game and has been hot at the plate of late. He's reached safely in 15 of 16 games this month, batting .400 (22-for-55) with five doubles, four homers, 10 RBIs and 10 walks. He's also tied his career high for home runs with 22 through just 65 games this year.
Washington is already without left fielder Jayson Werth and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, both of whom are currently on the 15-day disabled list. Robinson and Danny Espinosa have performed well filling in for the missing veterans, but the Nationals' depth is already being severely tested, even before Harper's injury.
Werth isn't expected back until at least August as he recovers from two fractures in his left wrist, while Zimmerman's return date is unknown as he's sidelined with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.