Per Dan Kolko of MASN, Nationals manager Dusty Baker announced Harper was taken out for precautionary reasons and is listed as day-to-day.
Losing Harper would be a devastating blow for the Nationals. He is off to a red-hot start this season with a .388/.512/.745 slash line and nine home runs coming into Thursday’s game.
The right fielder dealt with physical setbacks last year as well. He suffered a wrist injury and neck stiffness and played 147 games, slashing .243/.373/.441 with 24 home runs and 86 RBI.
His health problems were one reason he didn’t replicate his dominant performance from 2015, when he won the National League MVP behind a .330 batting average, 1.109 OPS, 42 home runs and 99 RBI. Though he wasn’t the same formidable presence in 2016, Harper is still the anchor of Washington’s lineup.
The team will likely turn toward Rafael Bautista and Chris Heisey in right field until its leader is ready to return. The Nationals outfield is already thin after losing Adam Eaton for the season to a torn ACL.
While they at least provide depth in the outfield, the Nationals are a much more dangerous offense with Harper in the lineup.