Nationals say Bryce Harper has 'significant' bone bruise, but ligaments aren't damaged

The Nationals appear to have avoided the worst-case scenario with superstar Bryce Harper after he slipped on a rain-soaked base on Saturday night. General manager Mike Rizzo told reporters that Harper only sustained a "significant bone bruise" and that Harper's knee ligaments and tendons were undamaged following an MRI on Sunday morning. Rizzo said the hope was that Harper will be back this season. 

This has to be considered outstanding news for the Nationals and Harper. It's difficult to remember a situation where a player's leg buckled like Harper's and the player didn't have a torn a ACL as a result. Have a look at the play where he suffered the "significant" bone bruise:

Such an injury would've ended Harper's season and impacted his 2018 campaign. Instead, it sounds like he has a shot to return late this season or maybe just for the playoffs. The Nationals have a big enough lead in the NL East to be overly cautious with him, too. 

Harper, 24, is hitting .326/.419/.614 with 27 doubles, 29 homers, 87 RBI and 92 runs this season. He's on the short list of top-notch MVP candidates, so losing him for any length of time greatly impacts the Nationals. They do, however, have a 14 1/2 game lead in the NL East and are definitely postseason bound. 

The Nationals have already lost Adam Eaton and Trea Turner to serious injury. Jayson Werth is out with a foot contusion and Michael Taylor has an oblique injury. Thus, it appears they are down to Adam Lind and Howie Kendrick flanking Brian Goodwin in the outfield for the time being. 

Big picture, though, to reiterate: This is great news for the Nationals and Harper. It really felt like we'd be discussing a torn ACL right about now and we aren't. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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