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Bryce Harper splits face open during dugout outburst

Scott Levin's picture

Washington Nationals phenom Bryce Harper has had his ups-and-downs since joining the major leagues. Count Friday night's incident in the "down" column.

The 19-year-old outfielder injured himself during Friday's game against the Cincinnati Reds. Harper, miffed after making one of his five outs on the night, slammed a baseball bat into a dugout wall. Part of the bat flew back into the face of Harper and cut him just below the left eye.

Harper returned to the field, but a large, bloody gash was clearly visible on his face. He continued to play with a bandage but was taken for treatment following the game. The Washington Post has reported that Harper needed 10 stitches to close the cut.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson told members of the media that Harper may need a few days off to recover. Harper, however, said he's been cleared by medical personnel and hopes to play Saturday.

The debut season for Harper, who arrived with much fanfare, has been a mixed bag. He finished Friday's game 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, dropping his season average to .233. He has yet to homer in 12 games, producing just three RBI's.

Still, Harper has flashed the skills that have Nationals fans giddy about his future. In his first game, Harper hit the first of his six doubles on the season and later added a sacrifice fly. A few days later, Harper showed his defensive skills, unleashing a terrific throw from left field that should have gunned down a runner at the plate.

Harper's blowup Friday is evidence of the character concerns that have plagued the teenager during his baseball career. In college, Harper earned two suspensions, the second of which for arguing balls and strikes effectively ended his amateur career. During a minor league game last season, Harper blew a kiss to an opposing pitcher after hitting a home run. In a Yahoo Sports article from 2010, one scout said Harper has "top-of-the-scale arrogance, a disturbingly large sense of entitlement, and on-field behavior that includes taunting opponents."

At 19, Harper has plenty of time to mature, and the Nationals are surely confident in his ability to do so. Friday's tantrum may look bad now, but it could just be another learning experience for the kid they call "The Chosen One."

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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