"As soon as the ball was hit, I could tell [Harper] didn't get a good jump," center fielder Denard Span said. "It looked like he took a step in or something. As the ball was going, I was yelling, 'Back, back, back.' I took my eye off him for a second."
Harper, 20, lost sight of the ball. As the ball hit the bottom of the wall, Harper crashed into it face-first and was shaken up on the play. Ellis ended up with a triple.
"The ball was curving, so it was a tough play," manager Davey Johnson said. "I was more worried when he wasn't moving too much. I thought he had a concussion. But fortunately, he was all right."
"I saw him get close to the wall," Span said. "I thought he was going to try and jump and brace himself, maybe, and attempt to get the ball. He ran into the wall. He had no idea where he was. As soon as he ran into it, it was like his body locked up. I never saw anyone run into the wall like that."
Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who won his seventh game of the season, thought Ellis hit an ordinary fly ball.
"It kept carrying," Zimmermann said. "I feel bad for [Harper]. That's all you could ask for as a pitcher -- a guy going 110 percent. I hope he will be all right."
Harper was on the ground for several minutes as Johnson, Span and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz came to his aid. By the time he got up to leave the game, blood was visible under Harper's chin. Roger Bernadina replaced Harper.
"He didn't want to come out of the game," Johnson said. "He was bleeding all over the place. ... He is a tough guy. He will be all right."
Harper has a Pete Reiser-type attitude when it comes to playing the outfield all out. Harper is not worried about running into walls, no matter what the cost.
Besides, Harper is not an expert at playing the outfield. He spent most of his college career as a catcher. Harper didn't become an full-time outfielder until after he was selected as the first overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
"He is not worried about the wall or anything. He should know that he is on the warning track and back off a little bit, but that is not his nature," Johnson said. "I don't want to change him. I feel sorry for the wall if he keeps running into it."
Harper is clearly the Nationals' best hitter, hitting .303 with 10 home runs and 21 RBIs.
"He is a warrior," Span said. "I guarantee he is going to try to play tomorrow. Thank God he is OK."
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman feels Harper will learn to take care of his body a lot better as the years go by.
"That means not injuring yourself," Zimmerman said. "But I would rather have someone of that age playing too hard and try to harness it down than not playing hard enough and tell him, 'Hey, you need to run that ball out and you need to do this.' I don't see any problems with any of it. As he grows, he will learn what to do and what not to do."
Harper declined to talk to the media after the game.