What’s wrong with Washington Nationals OF Bryce Harper? It’s not entirely clear

Aug 6, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) reacts after striking out during the fifth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 6, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) reacts after striking out during the fifth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

Today’s District Daily has more on the conflicting reports surrounding the health of Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.

Good evening DoD readers, and welcome to today’s District Daily. Get caught up on the latest Nats news and opinions with some great Washington Nationals articles from around the web below.

More from District on Deck

In today’s Daily, the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes discusses some conflicting reports that surfaced this afternoon regarding Bryce Harper’s health. As Janes writes, Harper wasn’t in tonight’s starting lineup for the fourth game in a row as he continues to deal with neck stiffness.

Hours before the game, however, a report from Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci suggested that Harper may be dealing with something else — a right shoulder injury that, according to Verducci, has been ailing him for two months.

Here’s what Verducci said of the injury, and how it has affected Harper’s bat this season:

"The injury affects the area at the top and back of his shoulder and at the base of his neck. Harper has been receiving treatment for the injury, the source said, including cupping therapy and Active Release Technique……The injury has been particularly problematic for Harper when it comes to pulling his bottom hand through his swing, the key to creating loft and power. Harper, 23, has the highest contact rate and lowest strikeout rate of his five-year career, but his percentage of soft-hit balls is a career worst. His batting average on balls in play (.237) is the fourth-worst among qualifiers, trailing only the White Sox’ Todd Frazier, the Indians’ Carlos Santana and the Rangers’ Prince Fielder, the latter of whom ended his career this week because of repeated neck problems."

The suggestion that Harper was dealing with a more significant injury than we expected didn’t come as a surprise to many Nationals’ fans. After all, the defending NL MVP is in the midst of arguably the worst slump of his career, and an underlying injury would explain why he hasn’t been his usual, dominant self in 2016.

But, as Janes writes, the team did not confirm that Harper has been dealing with a shoulder injury. In fact, general manager Mike Rizzo flatly denied the report (via Janes’ article):

"“He hasn’t had a right shoulder injury,” Rizzo said. “He’s got a stiff neck that we’ve been treating — yes with cupping, yes with [massage therapy], like 14 or 15 other players on the team on a routine basis like we always do. The report is inaccurate.”"

Officially, Harper remains day-to-day with neck stiffness. The longer he’s out of the lineup, however, the more concerning this matter becomes for the Nationals, or at least for their fans. Hopefully for the team, Harper can return fully healthy in the next few days. One thing’s for certain, they not only need him to be healthy, they also need him to be productive.

Below are links to Verducci’s report, as well as Janes’ article about Rizzo’s comments. Be sure to check out both articles below, they’re definitely worth a read. and as always, stay tuned to DoD for all your Washington Nationals needs.

Source: Bryce Harper’s struggles may be due to right shoulder injury

(Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated)

What’s wrong with Bryce Harper? One of the more frequently asked and vexing questions of this season may have its answer in a previously undisclosed injury. The Washington Nationals rightfielder and 2015 National League MVP has been playing through a right shoulder injury for the past two months, according to a source close to the team. Read full article here.

Mike Rizzo says Bryce Harper ‘does not have a right shoulder injury’ — just a ‘stiff neck’

(Chelsea Janes, Washington Post)

As the Nationals sweated through batting practice on a muggy D.C. afternoon on Friday, a Sports Illustrated report began to circulate saying that Bryce Harper’s stiff neck may be something more serious, tied to a preexisting shoulder injury he dealt with for two months. Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo was made aware of the report, and immediately headed from the field to the clubhouse. A few minutes later, he emerged into the sweltering dugout, fiery in his denial that Harper’s injury was anything other than the stiff neck that he and Nationals Manager Dusty Baker have said it was all along. Read full article here.