LOS ANGELES — Bryce Harper put a scare into himself and his Washington Nationals teammates after his latest violent collision with an outfield wall.
He received 11 stitches in his chin and jammed his shoulder but didn’t sustain a concussion after slamming into the wall in right field on Monday night.
Harper left the game in the fifth inning, and the Nationals went on to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-2 in the opener of a 10-game road trip. He didn’t want to talk to reporters after the game.
Harper hit the scoreboard wall face-first while tracking a ball hit by A.J. Ellis over his left shoulder. He never looked at the wall, and when he finally turned, he was on top of it. The impact sent Harper’s cap flying as he bounced off the wall and crumpled to the ground, with Ellis getting a triple.
“As the ball kept going, I was like, ‘Is he going to stop?'” Nationals center fielder Denard Span said. “He looked like he didn’t get a good jump at all, like he was surprised the ball was hit to him. I thought he was going to jump and brace himself. As soon as he ran into it, his body locked up.”
Harper rolled onto his back and lay there for a couple minutes.
“You could tell he didn’t know where he was at,” Span said. “He just kept asking me, ‘Is it bad? Is it bad?'”
In the dugout, manager Davey Johnson briefly thought Harper might be unconscious.
Harper eventually got up under his own power. Streaks of blood from his chin that got cut on the chain link covering the scoreboard were evident on his neck as he walked off the field.
“It definitely wasn’t pretty seeing the blood trickle down his neck,” Span said. “He’s a warrior. I guarantee you, he’s probably going to try to play tomorrow.”
Harper was playing just his second game after missing two with an ingrown toenail that required surgery.
He drew praise from other teammates for his willingness to go all-out.
“I thought it was a routine fly ball, but it kept carrying,” winning pitcher Jordan Zimmermann said. “That’s all you can ask for as a pitcher, a guy going 110 percent.”
It wasn’t Harper’s first collision with the wall at Dodger Stadium. Last year in the second game of his career he hit the center-field wall while making a catch and hurt his back.
On April 30 in Atlanta, he bruised his left side leaping toward the fence while trying to prevent a home run.
“I would rather him not go all-out into the wall,” said Ryan Zimmerman, who drove in three runs. “Some people look at it as a bad thing. If you play that hard every day, there is something to be said about that. He’s going to play a long time, and you have to learn to take care of your body. As he grows, he’ll learn what to do and what not to do.”
Johnson said, “I don’t want to change him.”
See video of Harper hitting the wall below.