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A dazed and bloody Bryce Harper leaves the field in the fifth inning.
By night's end, the Nationals had received encouraging news about their 20-year-old slugger, who didn't appear to be seriously injured but did require 11 stitches on his chin while also dealing with a bruised shoulder and knee.
Harper didn't suffer a concussion on the play, manager Davey Johnson and agent Scott Boras each told reporters in Los Angeles following the 6-2 win over the Dodgers, more relief for the Nationals and anyone who was worried about the status of the club's young star.
Truth be told, Harper is extremely fortunate not to have suffered something truly serious on one of the most frightening plays you'll ever see on a baseball field, a play on which Harper didn't seem really to know where he was or what he was doing.
Harper got a bad jump on A.J. Ellis' long flyball in the bottom of the fifth, initially breaking in and to his right, then circling back around after realizing the ball was going over his head. Harper never came close to making the catch, but you'd have thought he'd have positioned himself to field the carom off the wall.
Instead, Harper kept running full-speed straight at the fence, as though he never saw it, slamming into it with such force that his cap came flying off and he staggered backward before falling to the ground. He remained there for several seconds, motionless, as Ellis raced around to third base before center fielder Denard Span could retrieve the ball and return it to the infield.
It was while Harper was on the ground that it became obvious he was bleeding. But from where? His nose? His mouth? His neck? Turns out it originated from Harper's chin, which struck the wire fence that holds the out-of-town scoreboard at Dodger Stadium.
Upon rising to his feet, Harper tried to convince Johnson and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz he could stay in the game. Neither would allow that, and for good reason: At that point, they had ever reason to believe he had suffered a concussion.
Now that he knows he didn't, Harper will have more reason to try to convince Johnson and Kuntz he can play in tonight's game. And perhaps he'll be successful.
But someone's going to have to talk to Harper about steps he can take to try to avoid such injuries in the future. Mind you, this is the second time he's been hurt as a result of a collision with the fence, this one coming two weeks after he suffered a bruised ribcage in Atlanta crashing into a similar wire fence.
Johnson said late last night Harper knows only one way to play the game, and the 70-year-old skipper doesn't want him to change that. But there's also a difference between playing with abandon and playing with reckless abandon, and Harper sometimes displays too much of the latter.
We can laugh it off and say he's only 20 and so his body can handle the beating. But the more beating that body takes, the worse shape it's going to be in once he's 25 or 30 or 35.
Harper shouldn't change who he is, because that's what makes him great. But he should start playing a bit smarter, recognizing the next time he runs face-first into a wall, he might not be able to bounce back up so quickly and with nothing more than a bloody chin.