Nationals: Harper scratched from lineup, Strasburg to the DL

The Washington Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper is going to miss a game for the first time this season. He has been scratched from Saturday’s lineup due to a sore back.

Friday night Harper was hit in the back by a 93 mph fastball by Reds’ pitcher Tony Cingrani during the seventh inning. Oddly enough it was the Reds that were upset with Harper after the incident.

Cingrani was upset because Harper, who had just been hit in the back with a fastball, took too long to make his way to first base.

That seems kind of ridiculous to say the least when you’ve just hit someone. Although Harper has been the epitome of a good ballplayer this year and is leading the league in virtually every offensive category, he does have a bit of a reputation that includes being benched last season by manger Matt Williams for not running hard enough to first base.

Yasiel Puig. Harry How/Getty Images.

He’s also been seen in the past as the “prima donna” type by older players and  people in the baseball industry along with some other young players in the league like Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Harper has been stellar so far this season in both behavior and play, so this shouldn’t matter. However, if Cingrani knows about these past issues it may have fueled him to make that statement. Reds’ first baseman Joey Votto also took issue with Harper’s actions.

Regardless of their reasoning, Harper had just been hit with a pitch and it obviously hurt him enough to keep him out of today’s lineup. 

There is no evidence that Cingrani hit Harper intentionally because doing so put the tying run on base which is something he would not want to do, especially that late in the game. 

Stephen Strasburg. Getty Images.

It was also announced by the Nationals Saturday that starter Stephen Strasburg, who left his Friday start after just 16 pitches with a stiff neck, will be placed on the 15-day disabled list. 

Strasburg has struggled this season, unable to retain his ace status.  In 10 starts, he is 3-5 with a 6.55 ERA. Perhaps the neck issue has been part of his problem.

Although, until Saturday the idea that Strasburg was healthy was the story portrayed by both the pitcher and the organization.

General manager Mike Rizzo had this to say prior to Friday’s game, 

“When he is feeling healthy and he says he is healthy, his stuff shows me that he is healthy, [and] he is proven to be one of the top pitchers in the league.”

After the game Strasburg admitted that he may not really be healthy.

“I don’t know why. I felt fine the first inning,” Strasburg said. “Once I sat down in the second, I felt it kind of tighten up. I put some hot stuff on it, and it just progressed. It’s really hard to turn my head to the left. It was something where I couldn’t … be effective. I didn’t want to push it too much.”

Now Strasburg will have at least 15 days of rest in which to figure out the root of the problem and hopefully for the Nationals be able to pitch to his ability once he returns.

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