Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was not a very happy man during the 2013 season. His team failed to live up to expectations, he was playing with pain every single day, and despite posting one of the best seasons ever by a 20-year-old, he was disappointed with his performance.
Despite the adversity that Harper faced during his second season in the Majors, Harper insists he has moved on and is focused solely on getting healthy and having a strong 2014.
“Everybody knows how I did last year and how I got hurt. I just want to focus on this year and focus on what I need to do to get better, what the rehab is, how to get better in spring with my knee, running, hitting and everything,” Harper told Fox Sports at NatsFest on Saturday.
Harper was limited to 118 games last season due to several injuries he sustained after crashing into the wall at Dodgers Stadium in May. Despite spending significant time on the disabled list, Harper never fully recovered from the injury and played through pain for the rest of the season.
Harper’s biggest issue was the bursitis he developed in his left knee. The 21-year-old had surgery in October to fix the problem and has been rehabbing the knee ever since.
“It’s going well right now,” he said. “Trying to get back to full strength. See where I can get by spring training and see if I can maybe go through Spring Training and get to 100 percent by the time the season starts.”
Despite the progress he has made in his rehab, it is unlikely that Harper will be 100 percent healthy for Spring Training.
Harper said he’s in Week 12 or 13 of a 16-week rehab program. So the Nats’ assertion he’ll be 100% on Day 1 isn’t happening. March 31, sure.
— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) January 25, 2014
Harper won’t be able to go full force into Spring Training, but he has made significant progress since his surgery and feels much better than he did last season.
“I sprinted for the first time three weeks ago,” he said. “That was awesome. No pain. To run with no pain was a lot of fun. I haven’t hit with no pain for about, I mean, a year.”
Harper may have been playing hurt, but his numbers certainly did not show it. The Nationals’ outfielder finished the season with a .274 batting average, 20 home runs and 58 RBIs. Harper also earned an All Star Game selection for the second year in a row and led the National League in outfield assists from left field with 11. If he has in fact been playing hurt for a year, then there’s no telling what he’ll do if he’s healthy in 2014.
From running into walls to missing out on the playoffs, 2013 was a disappointing year for Bryce Harper and the Nationals. Fortunately, like everyone else on the team, Bryce Harper has put that all behind him and he’s focused solely on the season ahead.
The Nationals are expected play deep into the playoffs in 2014 and they simply won’t be able to do that without Bryce Harper. The team needs their star left fielder to be 100 percent healthy for Opening Day, and Bryce Harper is determined to make that happen. While he still has a little ways to go, perhaps Harper has already accomplished the most important step in his rehab program: He’s moved on.