Is Bryce Harper healthy, or is he hurt? That seems to be the main question surrounding the Nationals these days, with the playoffs coming up and the reigning NL MVP's numbers way down compared to last season.
On Tuesday, SI's Tom Verducci backed up an earlier report he made with a sourced piece saying that Harper is indeed dealing with a shoulder ailment. On Wednesday, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo called into the Sports Junkies and, like he did with Verducci's inital story, denied it strongly.
"We're saying the same thing that we said for the last month, that he's healthy," Rizzo said. "And he is. And we're moving on with it. There's really nothing to add to it. There's no shoulder issues, there's no shoulder problems. He had that neck issue for about five days and we held him out, and that's it."
If he's 100%, then what's up with his steep drop in production? Rizzo didn't have an exact answer, but he tried to talk through the situation with the Junkies and, in the end, said he's confident it'll come to an end eventually.
"There's a lot of things that go into it," he explained. "It's such a complicated subject... He's got bat speed, he's got strength, he's got power. It's often a balance issue which tends to — guys [tend] to be over-aggressive at the plate, to lunge at times, to lose the strike zone where you're swinging at pitches outside your comfort zone. So there's a lot that goes into it. Great hitters get out of these things just by hitting, and like I've said all along, this is a guy that's, he's of the best players in the game and one day he's going to snap out of it and get on a roll and carry this team for a long, long time."
Not satisfied, Jason "Lurch" Bishop tried to push the executive more on why these reports keep coming out if No. 34 is fine. Before he could get very far in his question, however, he was interrupted.
"I'm saying that the information of him having a shoulder issue is inaccurate," Rizzo said. "What more can I say? I sat with the player, the trainer, the team physician and the manager in his office and asked the pertinent questions that you would ask a player straight-out like we attack every problem here, and he does not have a shoulder issue."
Can't get much clearer than that.
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