Bryce Harper leaves game with apparent knee injury

Outfielder Bryce Harper exited the Washington Nationals’ series opener against the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park late Saturday night with an apparent left knee injury during the first inning. The injury occurred when Harper attempted to beat out a groundball to the first baseman. The right fielder lunged for first base and slipped on the bag, and his leg appeared to buckle awkwardly. He immediately grabbed his left knee while falling to the ground and writhed in pain behind first base.

Harper remained on the ground for a few minutes as the ballpark went silent. Hitting coach Rick Schu and trainer Paul Lessard then helped him off the field. Harper didn’t put any weight on his left leg and had his head down as he was assisted off the field and through the Nationals dugout. It was reminiscent of the scene in the same area behind first base on April 29, when Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton sustained a season-ending knee injury, also trying to beat out a groundball.

The play occurred minutes into a game that started at 10:06 p.m. — after a three-hour, one-minute rain delay. Major League Baseball, not the Nationals, decided if and when the game would be played because the Giants don’t return to Washington this season. The league deemed the conditions playable after the rain slowed from its earlier levels, though the rain continued through the first inning. Last season, Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament after a rain delay one week before the playoffs started.

For all of the Nationals’ injuries this season, and there have been plenty of them, they have been able to avoid anything catastrophic since Eaton tore his anterior cruciate ligament. The big boppers in the middle of the order have stayed relatively healthy and the top four in the rotation have avoided major problems, though Stephen Strasburg is one of Washington’s 11 players on the…

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