WASHINGTON -- The Nationals returned home to play their first postseason game at Nationals Park on Wednesday, and they may have brought the flu bug with them.
Washington manager Davey Johnson revealed before Game 3 that reliever Craig Stammen had been fighting some sort of illness when the team was in St. Louis for the first two games of the National League Division Series, and center fielder Bryce Harper caught it as well.
A Washington Post report on Monday indicated that Harper was battling strep throat, but there had been no mention of Stammen's condition. Johnson didn't know the specifics of the illness and said Stammen didn't mention it to anybody, including the team's trainers.
"I think it's going around. Stammen had it in St. Louis," Johnson said. "If one guy has it, other guys are going to get it. But ... I don't care if [Harper's] got a fever, if he wants to play, he'll be fine."
Stammen pitched in both games at Busch Stadium, allowing two hits and hitting two batters in one inning of work in Game 1, only to have Ryan Mattheus bail him out by recording three outs on two pitches. He struggled again in Game 2, giving up two runs on a home run and two walks while recording just one out.
Harper, meanwhile, went just 1-for-10 with six strikeouts over the first two games of the NLDS and got thrown out trying to advance from second to third on a sacrifice fly, killing a potential rally in Game 2. Harper saw plenty of pitches in both games and insisted he was fine, and Johnson agreed that an illness wouldn't hold the energetic 19-year-old back at this point in the postseason.
"I haven't heard from the trainers that he was really under the weather or anything," Johnson said. "I'm sure he's good to go."