March 21, 2023
Bryce Harper isn't trying to rush his return back from Tommy John surgery, but things seem to be progressing well.
Well enough to the point where the Phillies want to keep all options open in the event that he might actually be able to come back before the initial All-Star break estimate.
That's why the NLCS MVP won't be starting the season on the 60-day injured list, team president Dave Dombrowski told 94 WIP Tuesday morning. There's some hope that they might be able to get Harper's bat back in the lineup sooner than expected, which is why they don't want to sideline him outright until May 29 at the earliest.
"He's doing great. It's really a situation where he's doing very well. He's progressing, as the doctor has said, he's swinging the bat without pain, so he's taking all the steps. I think in our situation, we continually say that we anticipate him before the All-Star Game, which we think will happen.
"The one thing is you never know about setbacks with these types of things, so that's why having a specific time date is always very difficult. Do I hope that he comes back before that? Sure, no question about it.
"The idea when you look at this is that we're not going to put him on the emergency injured list, which would keep him out until May 29 because we're going to keep our options open that, hopefully, he comes back. But he's doing great, absolutely tremendous." [94 WIP]
A potentially big revelation, but one where Harper's health and the trajectory of his rehab remain the top priority. An MVP-caliber hitter like Harper is a game-changer at any point in the season, but one the Phils want to make sure can stay in the lineup once he's there.
What hasn't changed is that when Harper does return, it will still be purely as the designated hitter. Dombrowski told WIP he'll begin throwing again in about a month or so, see how he feels, and go from there. Harper will return to right field at some point, but whether it's this year or next really isn't too big of a concern for the Phillies right now. It's about getting him back in the batter's box.
"It'd be great if he was out there this year," Dombrowski said of Harper playing the field. "But as long as we get his bat in the middle of the lineup, we'll worry about the outfield. He'll eventually play outfield, if it's not this year then next year."
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