Bryce Harper's Back Injury Diagnosed as Stiffness by Phillies, Status TBD

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2020

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper walks to the dugout after lining out against Washington Nationals pitcher Erick Fedde during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper exited Sunday's contest against the Toronto Blue Jays after seven innings because of lower back stiffness, manager Joe Girardi revealed.

Harper was 0-for-4 with a strikeout prior to exiting the 6-3 loss. His status for Monday's game against the Washington Nationals is uncertain. Girardi is hopeful Harper will be able to play in the series opener.

Harper has been durable of late, missing just five games during the 2019 campaign and three games in 2018 when he was still on the Nationals. He has never played fewer than 100 games in a single season.

The slugger spent his first seven years with Washington and has an impressive resume that includes the 2015 National League MVP, a Silver Slugger, a Rookie of the Year and six All-Star appearances.

Last season was his first with Philadelphia, and he slashed .260/.372/.510 with 35 home runs and 114 RBI. He has followed with a .260 average, 11 home runs and 28 RBI in 51 appearances in the 2020 campaign.

Philadelphia still has a number of players who can anchor the lineup, including Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto and Andrew McCutchen, but it will be hard-pressed to replicate Harper's everyday impact from right field.

Look for the Phillies to turn toward the combination of Jay Bruce, Phil Gosselin, Roman Quinn and Adam Haseley in right field until Harper is ready to return.

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With Sunday's loss, the Phillies dropped to 27-26 on the season. They trail the Miami Marlins by 1.5 games for second place in the National League, which is guaranteed a postseason berth. They do, however, hold a half-game lead in the NL wild-card race.