The Washington Nationals watched one of their biggest nightmares play out on Saturday night, when star outfielder Bryce Harper slipped on a wet base during a game against the San Francisco Giants.
The slugger severely injured his knee and had to be carried off the field by trainers, which obviously wasn't a good sign for a team with World Series hopes this fall.
Harper was clearly in pain as he was helped to the clubhouse, and the diagnosis - a severe bone bruise in his knee - will likely have him out for a month, at least.
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Harper was injured trying to beat out a play at first base, and the base was wet because of rain in the Washington D.C. area earlier that evening. Though the field was deemed playable after a long rain delay, Harper's agent - Scott Boras - told ESPN.com that he believes Major League Baseball needs to come up with a solution for bases that become slippery when wet:
"We go to great lengths with the soil to make sure it's not wet and there are drying agents on the ground,'' Boras said. "I don't know what technology we apply or the studies that have been done on the composition of having a wet base. That's certainly something we need to look into. This injury was directly related to inclement weather and a player putting his cleat on the bag and it slipping across because the surface was slick.
"In the NBA, when a player hits the floor and there's perspiration on the floor, they clean it up immediately so the surface isn't slick. In baseball, we have no one cleaning the bags between innings during inclement weather. Is there observation as the game goes where they would stop and make sure the bag is dry? We don't do that. We don't take measures like that for player safety that could easily be accomplished by the grounds crew and the umpires' observations.''
Boras makes a good point, as Harper's injury could have happened to anyone.
Boras added that he's glad his client didn't tear his ACL like was initially feared, and that it looks like Harper will return before the start of the postseason:
"We're fortunate that the landscape for return looks very positive - within a time frame rather than something that would require surgery,'' Boras said. "The immediate vision was leading you in a different direction. It was a scary moment.''
At 69-46, the Nationals lead the NL East division by 13.5 games over the second-place Miami Marlins, so they aren't in much danger of missing the postseason even without their star outfielder. Still, they'll need a healthy Harper back in time for the playoffs if they want to compete for a World Series title.
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