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Harper will allow knee to fully heal before returning

Harper will allow knee to fully heal before returning

ATLANTA -- "What's up?" is not the right question to ask Bryce Harper these days, even with the best of intentions.

Last season's National League Rookie of the Year was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to Saturday's game in Atlanta against the Braves (retroactive to May 27) with persistent left knee bursitis.

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Harper will be shut down for at least the next 10 days.

"I'm not hitting or running," said Harper prior to Sunday afternoon's series finale with Atlanta at Turner Field. "I'll probably start that the middle or the end of next week, if I feel good. If I don't, I'll keep off of it."

That unknown eats at him as much as the day-by-day watch and wait for the swelling to measurably go down.

"It feels better than it did the other day. It's still swollen and crappy," Harper said. "So I'm just trying to get treatment and see if the swelling will go down. Of course I don't like going on the DL. I want to play. It's tough just sitting there and not doing anything."

Harper originally hurt the knee crashing into the wall at Dodger Stadium on May 13. He tried to play through the pain. He aggravated the knee on May 26 in Philadelphia, when he made a pair of head-first slides.

"Once I slid into third base against the Phillies, it really puffed up and it got bad," Harper said. "It's just one of those things you have to move past and try to get better."

With hindsight being 20/20, Harper said he might have considered going on the DL the day after hitting the wall. But it's not the wall at Dodger Stadium to which he referred.

He actually would have considered it after hitting the right-field wall at Turner Field in the fifth inning back on April 30, chasing a Tim Hudson home run. But he couldn't do it.

"After I hit the wall here, I should have probably gone on the DL and really just tried to get better and come back 15 days later," he said. "But with a lot of guys out, I wanted to stay in the lineup. Of course I want to play every day. It's something that maybe I'll learn more in my career, to take off 15 days instead of lose the month or whatever."

Harper, who's hitting .287, with 12 homers (tied for fifth in the NL), 23 RBIs, and a .587 slugging percentage (fourth in the league), found a bright side in sitting, as it will allow his entire body to heal. Ideally he'll be back for the team's series in Colorado a week from Monday.

"It lets everything heal: my hand, my wrist, my side, everything," he said. "Hopefully I'll come back and be full strength.

"If we're in September or October, I'm going to play," Harper added. "I don't want to be sitting out right now. It's just one of those things where you've got to be smart about what you do and just try to come in every day and get better and do things the right way."

The right way won't mean Harper changing how he plays.

"I want to go out there, I want to give 110 percent to these fans and myself," he said. "I look at myself in the mirror and tell myself, 'Hey, you gave it your all today.' If I went 0-for-4, it happens. So a good day on the field is going 110 percent, working hard, running everything out and doing things the right way. So I'm not going to change that aspect at all."

Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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