Washington Nationals’ outfielder Bryce Harper addressed the media for the first time this spring, answering the question that has been on everyone’s mind all offseason: Is he healthy?
Harper underwent surgery early in the offseason to heal bursitis in his left knee, an injury that he had been dealing with since before he ran into the wall at Dodgers Stadium last May. The injury caused Harper to miss significant time on the disabled list, and ultimately caused him to play through pain for the remainder of the season.
“It was a lot worse than many people thought,” Harper said in an interview with MLB Network last month. ”[Dr. Richard Steadman] went in and really saw that it was pretty bad. He fixed it and I’ve been feeling great.”
Although the surgery was successful, many wondered whether or not Harper would be healthy enough to have a normal spring training because it took weeks for him to be able to run and hit after the surgery. Not only was Harper’s offseason conditioning affected, but rehabbing the injury was a challenge on its own. Harper even admitted last month that he probably wouldn’t be 100 percent going into spring training. When it comes to a player recovering from surgery, there will always be doubts. And Harper is no exception.
Fortunately for the Nationals, Harper put most of those doubts to rest Wednesday afternoon.
“There’s nothing wrong with it,” Harper told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. “I’m good. I’m solid. I’m solid as can be. ACL, meniscus, MCL, everything is solid and very, very good. I’ll have no bone-on-bone contact or anything like that. My knee is completely fine.”
The news gets better each day for the 21-year-old outfielder, as manager Matt Williams has already declared him ‘full go’ for spring training. While Harper insists he is completely healthy, the team will still be cautious with their prized outfielder over the next six weeks of camp.
“As far as I know, he is full-go for spring training,” Williams told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. “We’re going to monitor him, though. We’re going to see how his knee reacts. There’s no way, even in a rehab situation, there’s no way to really simulate a game or the stuff that we do on the field until you do it. That’s why guys go out on rehab and play games, because you just can’t do it. So we’ll monitor him every day. If we see anything that’s bothering him, we’ll modify his program first. And if we’ve got to hold him out a day, we’ll hold him out a day to make sure he’s ready to go. As of right now, he’s full-go.”
The Nationals have a lot of things to watch out for during spring training, and Harper’s health is certainly one of them. Fortunately, it looks like Harper’s knee is healthy, and he’ll be ready to go not only for spring training, but for the regular season as well. The Nationals are expected to do big things this summer, and Harper will definitely play a major role.
The only problem now is that we won’t get to see him play in D.C. for another six weeks. Until then, enjoy this Vine of him hitting batting practice, and just picture the things he can accomplish if he stays healthy in 2014.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) February 18, 2014