Bryce Harper’s head-first slide into third base Friday will likely cost him at least two months, as Keith Law of ESPN.com reports that the Nationals outfielder needs surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb and is unlikely to play again before July.
Harper, who was benched by manager Matt Williams last week for a lack of hustle, was off to a modest start by hitting .289 with one homer and a .722 OPS through 22 games.
Washington brought in Nate McLouth this offseason specifically to address outfield depth, paying a premium to sign him for a part-time role. And now he’ll be in a full-time role as Harper’s replacement after logging a total of just 43 plate appearances so far. McLouth hit .258 with 12 homers and a .729 OPS in 146 games for the Orioles last season, so while he’s a solid all-around player he can’t come close to replacing Harper’s upside and overall impact.
UPDATE: Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com confirms the 6-8 week recovery timetable, so missing the remainder of the first half seems like a real possibility.