Bryce Harper absent from Nationals lineup after injuring thumb Friday night

Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is not in the lineup on Saturday, just one day after injuring his left thumb while sliding head-first into third base during their 11-1 victory over the San Diego Padres

According to manager Matt Williams, x-rays on Harper's thumb were negative and the outlook seems to look good overall, but they didn't want to push him with a quick turnaround on Saturday. 

"The early tests today are pretty good," Williams said. "The X-rays are negative. There's some swelling there. We just want to make sure we knock it out."

Harper is reportedly available to pinch-hit if needed. 

It's a little ironic that Harper's most recent ding comes so soon after he was benched by Williams during their game last Saturday when he elected to play it conservative on a ground ball to the pitcher. Harper entered that game nursing a sore quad, but Williams felt like the play deserved a full effort from his all-star. 

Harper accepted the reprimand like a professional and moved on. And on Friday night, no one could question his hustle. He busted it around the bases and left nothing to chance on his bases-clearing triple during the third inning. Unfortunately, though, even that didn't work out for him as he suffered the injury with perhaps an ill-advised head-first slide. But hey, if you're asking and expecting Harper to play at full speed at all times, a little recklessness goes along with it.

Harper is almost damned if he does and damned if he doesn't at this point, but hopefully the thumb problem will not be something that lingers or limits his production. He definitely appeared to be in a fair amount of pain immediately afterwards. He continued flexing and grimacing while standing on the bag but remained in the game to run and play defense for one half inning before being replaced by Nate McLouth.  

At this point it appears safe to call it a day-to-day injury based on the information Williams has given out. Harper echoed those feelings, stating he doesn't believe it will be a long term issue

“I didn’t think so,” Harper said. “When you hit it, you know whether it’s pretty serious or not. It just swelled up a little bit, and that was pretty much it.”

Here's hoping that's how it stays and Harper is able to resume his business, hopefully as soon as Sunday. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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