After a fast recovery time from the Tommy John surgery, 2021 MVP Bryce Harper has returned to the Phillies’ lineup in hopes of giving the struggling team a boost in the heart of its lineup.
Harper was cleared to return just 159 days after having his surgery, making it the fastest a major league player has ever recovered from such an injury. Harper was diagnosed with a torn UCL in his right elbow during the 2022 season, but played through it in hopes of leading the Phillies through a deep postseason run. He achieved that goal and then had the reconstructive surgery in the offseason.
The Phillies originally estimated Harper would return to the lineup right around the All-Star break in mid-July. Harper crushed that timeline and beat even the wildest of expectations.
For now, Harper will only be the team’s designated hitter, however he has not played in the field since early in the 2022 season. Committing to Designated Hitter has allowed him to return sooner, since he will not be putting as much stress on his elbow. When Harper is cleared to play in the field, however, it may not be in the same position that fans are accustomed to. Harper has been seen fielding ground balls at first base, a place he has little experience with. A first baseman still has to make occasional throws, but they are not as far and with as much power as a throw from right field would be. This allows the Phillies to possibly explore trading for another outfielder at the deadline and slot Harper at first base, which has usually been occupied by Rhys Hoskins, prior to his season-ending torn ACL.
Harper may take some time to adjust to major league pitching after missing the start of the season, but there is no doubt his recovery from this injury was nothing short of remarkable and needed for the team’s success. With the Phillies off to a slower start than many would have expected, having Harper back solidifies a lineup that is expected to be one of the best in all of baseball.