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April 03, 2023

Phillies injury update: Bryce Harper's back in the batting cage

Bryce Harper told ESPN Sunday night that he's back in the batting cage while manager Rob Thomson said he'll likely start hitting from the field ahead of Thursday's home opener.

Bryce Harper still has a ways to go before he can return to the Phillies' lineup, but things sure do sound like they're progressing well, maybe even better than anyone could've expected. 

During Sunday night's 2-1 loss to the Rangers down in Arlington, Harper and Phillies manager Rob Thomson were both interviewed on the ESPN broadcast midgame and discussed the NLCS MVP's recovery from offseason Tommy John surgery. 

As captured by NBC Sports Philadelphia's Corey Seidman, Thomson said that Harper is doing "really well" and will likely begin hitting on the field at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday when the club returns to Philadelphia for their home opener against the Reds. 

Harper added that he also started going through his routine in the batting cage about a week and a half ago. 

After playing through the majority of last season, and the postseason, with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm, Harper underwent the reconstruction surgery in late November with an initial estimate from the Phillies that he would be back as the designated hitter around the All-Star break. 

When Harper reported to Clearwater last month, he made it clear that neither he nor the organization were trying to rush the recovery process along, but there seemed to be a lot more optimism that he wouldn't miss as much time as originally expected. He was still able to get his workouts in over the winter, take dry swings with the bat, and generally seemed to be trending upward and fast, especially after the Phillies opted to place him on the 10-day injured list instead of the 60-day one to begin the season

The plan, however, still seems to be to remain patient and for Harper to take his time. 

"Still got a minute to go," he told ESPN (via NBCSP). "Just trying to be smart about it, understanding my good days are going to be good and some days I'll just be sore and it'll be a little tougher. But I feel good right now, just got to keep that going and keep doing the same stuff."

Ranger's recovery

Ranger Suárez threw a bullpen over the weekend and will throw another on Monday, but still won't be back for a bit. 

The 27-year-old lefthander, who is the Phillies' No. 4 projected starter, didn't pitch for the club at all during the spring and was placed on the 15-day injured list with a left elbow strain just before the season opener this past Thursday. 

Taijuan Walker will make his first start for the Phils Monday night against the Yankees up in the Bronx, then lefty Matt Strahm will lead a bullpen start on Tuesday before the rotation resets to Aaron Nola at the top on Wednesday. 

The Phillies' starting pitching has had a rough go to begin 2023, and without Suárez – who had a 3.65 ERA in the No. 3 spot last season – to complete the full 1-5, they might have to weather the storm for a bit over the next couple of weeks. 

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