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.
Time is running out for Orioles right-hander Andrew Cashner to make a comeback this fall, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports that he may not make it back to the mound before the regular season comes to a close next weekend. Cashner is still dealing with a lingering bout of bursitis in his left knee and was forced to miss his scheduled start against the Blue Jays on Monday. As no timetable has been given for his return to the rotation, it seems increasingly likely that he’ll be kept on the shelf until spring.
It’s been an up-and-down year for the 32-year-old righty, who has also missed some playing time after sustaining a neck strain and low back pain. After inking a two-year, $16 million deal with the Orioles back in February, he pitched to a 4-15 record in 28 starts with a career-worst 5.29 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, and 5.8 SO/9 through 153 innings. By the time he was sidelined with swelling and chronic pain in his knee, he’d already taken five straight losses, the last of which was an eight-run, one-strikeout affair against the Athletics that lasted only two innings.
The silver lining: It doesn’t look like Cashner’s knee problems will require any intensive treatment — he’s already received a cortisone injection to treat the problem areas — though there’s no reason for the Orioles to push him to make a quick recovery with the way their season is going. Following their 10-8 loss to the Yankees on Friday, the team will enter Saturday’s game with a 44-109 record, the worst in the majors.