Bryce Harper does not have any ligament or tendon damage in his injured left knee, but the Washington Nationals star outfielder will be out indefinitely because of a significant bone bruise.

The Nationals are optimistic that Harper will return at some point this season, general manager Mike Rizzo said.

“We dodged a bullet here,” said Rizzo, who also noted that it was “pretty remarkable” that Harper avoided a more significant injury to the ligaments or tendon in his knee.

Harper suffered the injury when he slipped on a wet first base in the first inning of Saturday’s 3-1 win over the San Francisco Giants. While running out a ground ball to the right side of the infield, Harper avoided contract with first baseman Ryder Jones before his left foot slipped on the base. Harper’s leg buckled, he went airborne, and he fell to the ground as his helmet went flying.

Rizzo said the Nationals will be cautious in Harper’s recovery process but emphasized that the team expects him to return before the end of the season.

Saturday’s game began just after 10 p.m., following a three-hour rain delay. It was raining steadily when Harper’s injury happened.

Washington’s title hopes hinge largely on Harper’s health. The 2015 MVP is having another spectacular season, hitting .326 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs this season.

The Nationals enter Sunday with a 14½-game lead in the National League East. Washington and San Francisco are set for a doubleheader Sunday.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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