Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper is taking steps toward his return to the lineup.
He’s been plagued by two injuries: a broken left thumb and a torn ligament in his right elbow. Three pins were removed from his thumb on Monday and he’s gotten the go-ahead to start a throwing program.
Harper filled the designated hitter role since mid-April because of the elbow ailment until he was hit by a pitch from San Diego Padres pitcher Blake Snell on June 25, causing the broken thumb.
Now, the team has hope that he could get back to the field.
“There’s no guarantee of that, but we’re hoping that that’s how it plays out,” interim manager Rob Thomson said Wednesday before the Phillies faced the Atlanta Braves. “We’ll work that throwing program, progress him out to where he can throw 100 percent — or close to it — and then we can get him out there.”
Thomson said Harper has taken dry swings, plus a few off the tee, and is throwing in the 60-foot range.
While the Phillies would be happy to have Harper’s bat back in the lineup, they’d be even happier if he could play right field. That would allow Thomson to use Nick Castellanos at designated hitter and upgrade the outfield defense.
Harper, 29, has said that’s his goal.
“Hopefully I’ll be in right field by the end of the year, playing out there and being successful throwing a baseball,” Harper said last week, per The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Harper won his second National League Most Valuable Player award last season, when he hit .309 with 42 doubles, 35 home runs and 84 RBIs.
Despite the elbow injury, he was off to a hot start in 2022, batting .318 with 15 homers and 48 RBIs in 64 games.
In his career with the Washington Nationals (2012-18) and Phillies, Harper is batting .281 with 282 homers and 800 RBIs in 1,347 games.
–Field Level Media