Harper day-to-day after suffering right knee contusion (updated)

PHILADELPHIA - Bryce Harper was forced out of tonight's game against the Phillies after taking a seventh-inning pitch from Jeremy Hellickson off his right knee, but the Nationals MVP slugger appears to have avoided serious injury and may not have to sit out more than a day or two to recover.

"It hurts," Harper said, limping slightly around the clubhouse following the Nats' 4-3 victory. "Whenever you get squared up like that, definitely something that didn't feel good. I think we'll evaluate tomorrow and see how it feels."

The Nationals officially diagnosed Harper with a right knee contusion.

Harper was struck on the outside of his right knee by the pitch leading off the top of the seventh, immediately hunching over in pain. Nationals manager Dusty Baker and head athletic trainer Paul Lessard emerged from the dugout to examine him, but the slugger remained in the game after a slow walk to first base.

Bryce Harper gray at bat.jpg

The Phillies immediately tested Harper's leg, though, with Hellickson making four pickoff attempts during the next at-bat. Harper was forced to dive back into the bag each time.

Daniel Murphy followed with a sharp liner to left-center that was caught by Tyler Goeddel, who then fired a perfect strike all the way to first base. Harper, who wasn't running full-speed back to the bag, didn't slide and was narrowly thrown out to complete the 7-3 double play.

"It was pretty numb," Harper said. "It didn't feel that great. I thinking sliding back into first base on that double play just probably wouldn't have helped us at all in that situation. It probably wasn't a good idea for me to slide back into first right there."

When the inning ended, Chris Heisey took over in right field, while Harper headed back to the clubhouse.

"It probably didn't help the fact that (Hellickson) kept throwing over there thinking Bryce was faking, I guess," Baker said. "Bryce ran and went back into first, and the trainer told me that his legs were weak at that point in time. We decided just to try to do the safe and the right thing to get him out of the game."

Harper has been hit by pitches in that area before, most notably last season on a fastball from Mets flamethrower Noah Syndergaard, and typically has been able to return in a day or two.

"We'll see how I feel in the morning," he said. "If I don't feel good, I'm not going to play. If I feel fine, then I'll be in there."

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