LOS ANGELES (CBSDC/AP) — Bryce Harper arrived at Dodger Stadium a little bit smarter Tuesday.
Less than 24 hours earlier, the 20-year-old Washington Nationals slugger ran headfirst into the right-field wall while chasing a fly ball. The violent collision left him with 11 stitches in his chin, a sore body and a lesson learned.
Harper vowed to keep playing hard, but said he will learn how to avoid crashing into the fence with such force. He was set to sit out the remaining two games of Washington’s series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“He hadn’t been out there enough probably to realize he was even on the warning track,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “Once he hits the fence enough times, he’s going to get the translation to where he feels for the wall and looks for the wall. It’s going to come with experience, and the best teacher in the world is hitting that wall hard.”
Harper acknowledged feeling nauseous and “a little carsick” on Tuesday.
“But there is no concussion or anything like that,” he said.
The reigning NL Rookie of the Year wasn’t upset about the collision, only the after-effects.
First of all, he didn’t catch A.J. Ellis’ triple. Second, he had to shave his beard so the medical staff could patch him up. And then there was the general soreness anyone would feel after running into a wall full-speed.
“Both legs, (left) shoulder, ribs, hand, wrist, chin of course,” Harper said, laying out the laundry list of his sore body parts.
And while Monday’s exam didn’t reveal a concussion, Johnson said the outfielder is likely to undergo more tests.
“His shoulder, (left) knee and head took the brunt,” Johnson said. “I’d say I’m more worried about his shoulder and his knee than I am about the stitches in his chin.”
It wasn’t the first time Harper has felt the impact of an outfield wall. Two weeks ago in Atlanta he crashed into the fence and was left with bruised ribs.
Despite the health risks, Johnson isn’t about to tell Harper to stop playing as hard as he does. And it’s not as if Harper would listen anyway.
Harper took to Twitter on Tuesday, posting: “I will keep playing this game hard for the rest of my life even if it kills me! Ill (sic) never stop!”
Now it’s a matter of hoping he never seriously hurts himself.
“It’s just something that I’ll learn,” Harper said. “When I’m on the ball, I’m trying to get that ball because that’s the only thing that matters to me. That’s how I play. I’ve always played like that.
“I’m going to play this game for the rest of my life and try to play it as hard as I can every day. That’s my life on the line. At the end of the day I’m going to look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘I played this game as hard as I could and tried to make my team win a World Series every day.'”
Harper has a team high .303 average with 10 home runs and 21 RBIs this season.
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