WASHINGTON (AP) — Mike Trout watched as Bryce Harper injured his left knee slipping on a base and remembered his own experience.
The Los Angeles Angels’ center fielder jammed his left thumb sliding into a bag in late May and missed six weeks with a torn ligament . He’s glad the Washington Nationals’ star outfielder avoided ligament damage and won’t be out for the rest of the season because of a bone bruise .
“It’s good for baseball,” Trout said Tuesday. “You see a guy do that, it’s scary. You think of the worst. But you hope the best comes out of it.”
Harper and Trout went home run for home run during a two-game series in Southern California last month. Harper’s injury prevented a sequel this week in Washington.
“They’re remarkable,” said Angels outfielder Ben Revere, who played with Harper on the Nationals last season. “They’ve got all the tools in the world and that’s why they’re the top two guys in baseball, players-wise. It’s fun to watch them both.”
Trout certainly finds it fun to watch Harper, probably his closest contemporary among the best players in the majors. Trout, who just turned 26, appreciates the numbers the 24-year-old Harper puts up amid all the hype.
“People see him go on the field and some people think he’s a little cocky, but I talked to him a little bit when he was in Anaheim — he’s a great person and he goes out there and plays the game hard,” Trout said. “He wants to win. That’s the No. 1 thing as a teammate or as a player, you want to win. ... He’s laying everything out on the line every night.”
Trout admired Harper laying it on the line when he was injured, trying to leg out a single to the right side when he slipped. Trout doesn’t think anything can be done to prevent injuries caused by wet bases.
“For me and for him, it’s a freak accident,” Trout said. “He slipped on a base, and I slid and there wasn’t even a play. It was just a freak thing. It’s obviously good to be back for me, and I’m sure he’s working hard to get back.”
Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said the Angels “managed to hold our heads above water” amid injuries to Trout and several pitchers. But Scioscia is keenly aware of the impact Trout had in the clubhouse when he returned in early July.
“When a player of Mike’s caliber comes back in and you see him in the starting lineup, everyone’s kind of hitting closer to where they’re used to and hopefully the game flow goes to where you can start to get the game on your terms more often because you can pressure teams,” Scioscia said. “We’re still trying to get that offensive consistency and we can be better at it, but getting Mike back in the lineup goes a longer way to bring you to that goal.”
Harper has been a huge part of the Nationals’ lineup this season, hitting .326 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs. From playing with him, Revere knows how difficult it is for Harper to sit out and rest his knee.
“A bone bruise is something that I’ve seen guys have, and I know it’s something you’ve got to let heal slowly,” Revere said. “I know he’s going to be eager (to get) back there.”
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