Nationals OF Harper to see knee specialist Monday

WASHINGTON (AP) — The swelling in Bryce Harper’s left knee isn’t getting any better, so the Washington outfielder will see a specialist next week and won’t be coming off the disabled list when he is eligible.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Thursday that Harper visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday for a second opinion on the knee that has been troublesome ever since the 20-year-old slugger ran into the wall at Dodger Stadium on May 13.

“We’ve just got to get the swelling out. We’ve got to get the inflammation out of there,” Johnson said. “We haven’t been real successful with our treatment here.”

The news is the latest health blow to the Nationals, who are struggling to tread water in the NL East after starting the season as division favorites. The club’s other marquee young star, Stephen Strasburg, was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a strained muscle in the lower back. The team announced Thursday that left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno has been recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to take Strasburg’s roster spot.

Johnson said Harper’s knee was swollen after some light jogging in the pool Thursday. The injury has been diagnosed as bursitis, but it hasn’t responded to anti-inflammatories. Johnson said there’s not enough fluid in the knee to drain it and that surgery to remove the bursa sac would be a “last resort.”

Harper is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, but he said he will need to play a couple of rehab games in the minors to test the knee.

“I’m not going to rush it. I’m going to take as much time as I can to get it right,” Harper said. “I want to get back in this lineup 100 percent. I don’t want to get back in it 80 percent.”

The NL Rookie of the Year dismissed any thought of having a cortisone shot to help him get back on the field.

“I don’t want to put any of that stuff in my knee, in my body,” he said. “It would do some damage to my knee, and I’m not going to do that at 20 years old.”

Harper leads the Nationals with 12 home runs and a .287 batting average, and has 23 RBIs.

With Strasburg sidelined, Cedeno’s recall was meant to be a temporary measure because the Nationals were going to need to promote a starter for Saturday’s game against Minnesota. Thursday night’s game against the New York Mets was postponed due to rain, however, allowing Johnson to move Gio Gonzalez from Thursday to Friday and Nathan Karns from Friday to Saturday.

Jordan Zimmermann would then pitch on regular rest on Sunday, although the entire three-game series against the Twins could be affected by rains from Tropical Storm Andrea.

Johnson said the other starter pitcher on the DL, Ross Detwiler, is scheduled to make a rehab start at Single-A Potomac on Saturday. Detwiler, who has been battling a strained oblique muscle, is scheduled to throw 40-50 pitches for Potomac, and, if all goes well, will return to the big league rotation late next week.

Johnson also said that Danny Espinosa had a cortisone shot for the small wrist fracture that landed the second baseman on the DL. Espinosa had MRIs on both his right wrist and his shoulder, which is still showing the effects of his decision to play last season with a torn rotator cuff.

Johnson said Espinosa will be sidelined four or five days before resuming baseball activities.

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