Bryce Harper comes through surgery on left thumb
by Amanda Comak
HOUSTON – Bryce Harper underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb. The Washington Nationals outfielder is expected to begin his rehab immediately.
Harper, who injured his thumb sliding into the third base bag on Friday night, visited the Cleveland Clinic on Monday for a second opinion. It was determined there that surgery was the best option for the 21-year-old slugger.
“We got a little message from Bryce about getting back to (batting practice) post-surgery, so it went fine,” manager Matt Williams said before the Nationals played the Astros on Tuesday night.
“We’ll have to see how long that takes. We expect him to heal fast. He’s young and, given his history, he’s healed pretty fast. We’re optimistic about it but unsure at this point how long exactly it will take.”
The injury adds to the talented list of walking wounded currently on the Nationals’ roster as Harper joins Ryan Zimmerman (finger), Wilson Ramos (hand), Doug Fister (lat) and Scott Hairston (oblique) on the Disabled List – though all are progressing well in their individual returns to the active roster.
Harper was batting .289 with a .352 on-base percentage and .422 slugging percentage at the time of his injury, but it appeared he was just starting to find his groove. In his last 62 at-bats, Harper is hitting .339 with a .406 on-base percentage and .516 slugging percentage.
“It hurts a lot,” Williams said of losing Harper for a significant amount of time. “He’s a fantastic player and we’ll certainly miss him but we’ve got to step up and play well. At this point he’s going to be out for an extended period and we’ll just have to play and win our games.”
With Harper out, the work the Nationals did to overhaul their bench in the offseason will be brought to the forefront.
Nate McLouth, Kevin Frandsen, Tyler Moore and — when he returns from the DL — Hairston, will likely share the responsibilities of filling that spot in left field.
McLouth, who posted a .258 average, .351 on-base percentage and .459 slugging percentage in 2013 with the Baltimore Orioles, hit his first home run of the season on Sunday.