Strickland reacts to raining boos at Nationals Park: 'I don't blame them'

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AP

Strickland reacts to raining boos at Nationals Park: 'I don't blame them'

WASHINGTON D.C. — When the Giants arrived at Nationals Park on Friday, Bruce Bochy was asked if he would let Hunter Strickland face Bryce Harper in this series. He said that without a doubt he would, if the situation called for it. 

Harper was lost before Strickland ever took the mound, suffering a knee injury in Saturday night’s series opener. A few hours later, Strickland did end up facing the heart of Washington’s order, and the home fans showed they haven’t forgotten a fight that occurred earlier this season at AT&T Park. 

Strickland was booed as soon as the bullpen door opened up, and the chorus became overwhelming when he was announced as the pitcher for the eighth inning. The grumbling continued throughout the inning. After giving up a two-run homer in his frame, Strickland walked off to 30 seconds of additional boos. 

“I don’t blame them,” Strickland said. “They’re obviously pulling for him and didn’t like how things went down (in San Francisco). I didn’t expect anything different.”

Asked about the boos, Bochy smiled. 

“I thought it would be a standing ovation,” he joked. “I was a little surprised.”

Harper wasn’t around to try and get revenge, but the Nationals’ No. 3 hitter got a piece. Anthony Rendon hit a two-run shot that cut the deficit in half. The Giants went on to win 4-2. 

“Obviously I made a mistake on one pitch and he got the best of it,” Strickland said. 

The right-hander said he hopes to get another shot in the nightcap of the doubleheader. As for Harper, the Nationals got good news Sunday. What initially looked like a devastating injury is just a hyperextension and bone bruise. The Nationals expect Harper back in the lineup at some point this year. 

“That’s huge for them, and huge for him in his career,” Strickland said. “You don’t wish injuries on anyone, no matter what.”

Bryce Harper suffered no ligament damage, but has 'significant' bone bruise

Bryce Harper suffered no ligament damage, but has 'significant' bone bruise

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals say Bryce Harper has a "significant" bone bruise in his left knee but no ligament damage, and general manager Mike Rizzo is hopeful the star outfielder will be back this season.

Harper injured his knee when he slipped on first base in the first inning of a rain-delayed game against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night. Rizzo said Sunday that Harper had an MRI afterward that showed no structural damage.

"Although we feel we've dodged a bullet a bit here with any long-term ligament and tendon damage, the bone bruise is something of significance, and we're going to treat him cautiously and hopefully have him back later on this season," Rizzo said. "We put ourselves in a position that we can treat it cautiously and we'll continue down that road."

Rizzo says there's no timetable for Harper to return. The team is placing him on the 10-day disabled list and activating outfielder Michael Taylor.

Harper, the 2015 National League MVP, is having another spectacular season for division-leading Washington, hitting .326 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs.

Rizzo - and anyone watching the play - feared it was a serious, potentially season-ending injury. Harper clutched at his left knee and didn't put any weight on it as he was helped off the field.

"We were all holding our breath last night a little bit and hoping for the best," Rizzo said. "Got a glimmer of hope last night when he was able to walk up the stairs from the dugout to the clubhouse and put some weight on it. Had some optimism."

Rizzo cautioned that "the bone bruise is real" and that the team has the luxury of being extra cautious because of its 14½-game lead in the NL East. Given injuries to Harper, Stephen Strasburg - who has a rehab assignment Monday - and others, the Nationals' focus is getting healthy for the playoffs.

Giants give their view of Harper's knee injury: 'He was in pretty good pain'

Giants give their view of Harper's knee injury: 'He was in pretty good pain'

WASHINGTON D.C. — Ryder Jones saw two big men sprinting his way and thought that there was going to be a collision in the rain at Nationals Park. Jones and Jeff Samardzija avoided injury. Bryce Harper, however, wasn't as lucky.

Harper, the superstar right fielder here in Washington D.C., crumpled after slipping on first base in the first inning Saturday night. The injury stunned a crowd that waited three hours for the rain-delayed game, which the Nationals won 3-1. 

Harper was diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee. He will have an MRI on Sunday to determine if there are further injuries.

"It didn't look good. I hope he's alright," Jones said. "It was one of those freak plays where you think there's going to be a collision but there wasn't. The tops of the bases were wet from the rain. I stepped on the base and jumped out of the way. I didn't really notice anything when I tagged the base and then I heard all the fans go 'ohhhh.' 

"He looked like he was in pretty good pain. You never want that to happen to a player."

Harper was hurt about 20 minutes after the first pitch, which came three hours later than planned because of a storm that hit Nationals Park in the evening. It was unclear why Major League Baseball did not push Friday’s postponed game to Saturday afternoon, when the skies were clear. The teams ended up going through their routines for a 7:05 start, but as Samardzija headed to the dugout to start warming up, the Giants were told they would be delayed. 

They scrambled to get a new start time at a park where just about every rain-related decision this season has backfired. At 7:57 p.m., the rain finally arrived in sheets. The teams did not take the field until 10:06 p.m., and neither manager altered his lineup despite a steady drizzle that kept the field soaked from the start. Bruce Bochy checked the field and thought it looked fine. 

The Giants took an early lead on a Joe Panik homer, but the Nationals struck right back, threatening with Wilmer Difo’s one-out double in the bottom of the first. Harper pulled a hard grounder that looked like an RBI double before it found Jones’ outstretched glove. Jones got up and raced Harper and Samardzija to the bag, in what was an odd coincidence. It was Samardzija who was racing into a scrum earlier this season to get to Harper, but Michael Morse got in the way and saw his season end instead. 

As Jones stepped on first, he deftly moved to his right to get out of Harper’s way. Harper slipped on the top of the bag and skidded forward, his knee twisting grotesquely. After a couple of minutes on the ground, he was helped off the field with his legs hanging in the air. 

"I saw a guy hustling to try to get a hit," Samardzija said. "You wait around three hours and you come out and everyone wants to play. It was tough conditions. It's tough to see, especially with a kid who plays so hard and cares so much. Hopefully it's not as bad as they think and he comes back sooner rather than later."