Harper exits with sore thumb after awkward slide

Right-fielder initially worried he reinjured UCL, listed as day to day

September 25th, 2016

PITTSBURGH -- Nationals right fielder left Sunday's 10-7 victory over the Pirates in the bottom of the third inning because of a sore left thumb. He is listed as day to day, but will have X-rays taken on the thumb on Monday.

In the top of the third inning against Pirates right-hander , Harper hit a triple down the right-field line. As he headed toward third base, Harper thought the Pirates were going to make a play on him. As it turned out, third baseman 's fake tag deked Harper. Pittsburgh never came close to making a play, and Harper hurt the thumb sliding awkwardly into the bag. At first, Harper thought he tore the UCL in the thumb.

"You don't want that to happen," Harper said. "I understand the deke at second base, I understand the double play kind of thing, but that kind of thing is not part of the game."

Head athletic trainer Paul Lessard and manager Dusty Baker came to Harper's aide. But Harper remained in the game and later scored on an infield single by .

But after the half-inning ended, Harper left the game and was replaced by . After the game, Harper said he believes the thumb injury isn't as bad as when he tore ligaments sliding into third base in 2014.

"The thumb is pretty swollen," he said. "It's not in the spot my UCL was. That was good. We'll see how it feels like tomorrow and the next day, and we'll go from there."

In the bottom of the inning, right-hander hit almost hit Kang with a pitch and was ejected from the game. The benches and bullpens cleared, resulting in Pirates left-fielder being ejected from the game. Cole denied that he was trying to hit Kang, saying the scouting report said to pitch him up and in.

But Harper liked the fact that his team had his back.

"I know my team has my back in any given situation. J-Dub [], and our whole dugout --- being able to see the family that we are, the team that we are, it makes you want to grind it out every single day for this organization."