Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson said losing to the Phillies on Sunday night was like "a stab in the heart." And being the last guy to find out that Bryce Harper was getting treated for a hip injury probably felt no better to Johnson.
Johnson said it was news to him that Harper, who hasn't been right physically since crashing into the outfield fence at Dodger Stadium in May, was getting medical attention for a sore hip. Reporter Amanda Comak of the Washington Times has the story:
“I was a little disturbed that I wasn’t informed that he was having some treatment on his hip,” Johnson said. “But every time anybody talks to Harp, he says: ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine.’ So I’m going to stick with him.”
Harper declined to acknowledge any specific issue, instead reiterating what he has told anyone else who has inquired.
“I’m fine,” Harper said. “Just like I told (Johnson). If I was hurting, I’d come out of the game. I feel good.”
Harper cited the amount of time left in the Nationals’ season — which is down to 25 games barring a playoff berth — and said “I’m going to play as hard as I can and just worry about it at the end.”
It's understandable for Harper to act like a tough guy and try to gut out an injury; it's not like he's the first player to do that. But the one person he's got to keep informed is the manager, even if Johnson might opt to sit him down because of what he's been told. Regardless, Harper needs to be honest with his boss. Harper's excuse is, he's 20 years old and feels like he could take on the whole Empire himself, like a latter-day (and real) Luke Skywalker. He'll learn.
But there's no excuse for Johnson not knowing what's going on with his most important player.
Even if Harper isn't the one to tell him, Johnson has to use whatever means he has to find out what's going on. It's on him to know Harper's status. Get better spies. Oh, well, it's almost too late now. There's precious little season left and Johnson has said he's retiring when it's over anyway. Would 1986 Davey Johnson know where Dwight Gooden or Darryl Strawberry was? I'd hope so. The next Nationals manager had better slap a GPS chip to Harper's backside.