Feeling nauseated, Harper out of Nats' lineup
Outfielder, who needed 11 stitches, defends aggressive style after hitting wall in LA
LOS ANGELES -- A day after crashing into the right-field wall at Dodger Stadium, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper said he was feeling nauseated and wouldn't play against the Dodgers on Tuesday night. There is a possibility he may not play Wednesday, according to manager Davey Johnson.
The Nationals were leading, 6-0, in the fifth inning on Monday when A.J. Ellis led off for the Dodgers and hit a fly ball to right field. Harper, 20, thought it was a routine fly ball. As the ball hit the bottom of the wall, Harper crashed into it face-first and was shaken up on the play. Ellis ended up with a triple.
"I thought I had the ball the whole time," said Harper, whose spot in right field was filled on Tuesday by Tyler Moore. "I turned left. I didn't think he hit it as hard as he did. I went back to the right side and I thought I had about five more feet. … I was looking at the ball and right when I turned around, I jumped to get the ball. Right before I tried to leap up, I just hit the wall.
"I don't know if [center fielder] Denard [Span] was saying anything. I didn't hear Denard at all. ... When I'm on the ball, I try to get that ball. That's the only thing that matters to me."
When he got up a few minutes later, Harper asked head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz if he could play, but Kuntz said no. Harper insisted that he could play and Johnson sided with him, saying, "You're good. Let's go." Kuntz insisted that Harper had to get off the field, and Harper left the game.
Besides receiving 11 stitches on his chin and a jammed left shoulder, Harper said both legs, ribs, hand and wrist are sore. Harper also took an ImPACT test, in which he was asked a series of questions such as naming his parents and what city he was in. He passed the test.
"I got the stitches and I feel kind of crappy today," Harper said. "I don't think I should go out there right now with how I'm feeling today. I'm feeling a little nauseous. That's the only thing that is holding me out of the lineup. The soreness and stuff is part of the game. You could play through that. If I wasn't feeling so nauseous, I would be in the lineup."
Don't look for Harper to harness the way he plays the game. He will continue to go all out, even if it means crashing into walls.
"I'm going to play this game the rest of my life and try to play as hard as I can," Harper said. "That's my life being on the line, trying to kill myself on the field for my team, trying to win the World Series. People can laugh about it all they want, but at the end of the day, I'm going to look at myself at the mirror and say, 'I played this game as hard as I could. I'm going to try to help my team win a World Series every day."
Johnson said he doesn't plan to change Harper on the way he plays and believes with experience, Harper will learn how far he is from the outfield wall. Johnson pointed out that Harper has not played the outfield on a full-time basis until after he was selected as the first overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. As an amateur, Harper was a catcher.
"I don't want to put a damper on his enthusiasm. That's who he is," Johnson said "He hasn't been in the different ballparks [in the Major Leagues], backgrounds, where to play hitters."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.