The Washington Nationals suffered their most devastating blow Monday in an opening month packed with injuries when they learned left fielder Bryce Harper will undergo surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and could miss two months, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.
Harper visited Dr. Thomas Graham at the Cleveland Clinic on Monday for a final opinion on his battered left thumb, which had already landed him on the Nationals’ crowded disabled list. The diagnosis confirmed the Nationals’ worst fear and will leave their already diminished lineup without one of its best players until roughly the start of July.
After Saturday, the Nationals worried Harper had damaged his ligament sliding into third base Friday night with a three-run triple. Harper, Manager Matt Williams said Sunday, endured a similar injury while in high school, which added to the concern.
Despite a slow first week and a widely debated benching for what Williams termed “lack of hustle,” Harper had started to find his offensive stride. In his past 65 plate appearances, Harper had hit .345 with a .435 on-base percentage and a .534 slugging percentage.
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Harper, 21, will miss a significant chunk of a season for the second time in his young career. Last year, the left knee bursitis he played through for much of the year forced him to the disabled list for 31 games and ultimately necessitated offseason surgery.
With Harper out for an extended period, the Nationals will rely on Nate McLouth, who signed a two-year, $10.75 million contract in December.
• The Cincinnati Reds are asking for more information from Major League Baseball about the replay dispute that led to Bryan Price’s first ejection as manager.
Price was ejected during the first inning of Cincinnati’s 1-0 loss in 10 innings at Atlanta on Sunday. Price asked for a replay after B.J. Upton was called safe at first base on Johnny Cueto’s pickoff throw. First baseman Joey Votto caught the ball and swiped at Upton’s hand before it touched the base.
The replay was deemed inconclusive and the call stood. Price came out to discuss it further and was ejected immediately.
The Reds sought clarification from MLB on Monday about why the replay was deemed inconclusive. Price thought that the replay definitively showed that Upton was out.
• The Houston Astros have traded right-hander Lucas Harrell to the Arizona Diamondbacks for cash or a player to be named.
Harrell was designated for assignment on April 16 after opening the season 0-3 with a 9.49 ERA. The terrible start to the season stretched his losing streak to eight straight decisions and he has not won a start since June 15.
• Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun was held out of the Brewers’ starting lineup for a second straight game Monday with a strained intercostal muscle.