Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers.
Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.
Harper said knows "exactly why" last year wasn't like '15, but dodged question about reason. Said tried to "stay in the lineup every day"— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) February 18, 2017
Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS.
With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years.
The Nationals aren't certain to have ace Max Scherzer ready to pitch for Opening Day. Scherzer, 32, was unable to compete in the World Baseball Classic this summer due to a stress fracture in his right ring finger.
When he spoke to the media today at the first bullpen session of spring training, he said that the fracture has healed but the symptoms continue.
Max Scherzer says his finger is healed, but he is still having symptoms. Played catch today, but wouldn't commit to be ready for Opening Day— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) February 16, 2017
Max Scherzer would not commit to being ready for opening day. Knuckle is healed, but still has symptoms. Played catch today.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) February 16, 2017
Scherzer said all the hand specialists he talked to said his injury was unusual. Just started throwing a baseball this week.— Jorge Castillo (@jorgeccastillo) February 16, 2017
Scherzer also said he'd just started throwing again this week. Manager Dusty Baker confimed that the Nationals don't know whether Scherzer will be ready to start the season.
Dusty said Nats have to make plans in case Scherzer isn't ready to start the season, but that they just don't know yet.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) February 16, 2017
Any time a team's star pitcher suffers an unusual hand injury, it's cause for concern for the club and fans.
Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award last season and posted a 20-7 record as a starter. He also led the MLB with 284 strikeouts.
Scherzer is an especially vital part of the Nationals rotation considering the injury history of Stephen Strasburg, who landed on the DL twice last season, once with soreness in the elbow that needed Tommy John surgery in 2010.
MORE NATIONALS: RANKING ALL 30 MLB LOGOS FROM WORST TO FIRST