Reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper will return to the Phillies’ active roster prior to their game with the Pirates on Friday, Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson told reporters (including MLB.com’s Todd Zelecki). The initial plan for Harper’s minor league rehab assignment planned for activation from the 60-day injured list on Monday, but Harper will instead return a bit earlier, as suggested by MLB Network’s Jon Morosi earlier today.
The Phillies first placed Harper on the 10-day IL due to his fractured left thumb back on June 26, so he’ll end up missing only slightly beyond the 60-day minimum. Harper has been making steady progress with his recovery ever since undergoing thumb surgery, and he will now again get to contribute to a Phillies team that has become one of baseball’s hottest teams.
The firing of Joe Girardi and Thomson’s installation as interim manager was the obvious turning point in Philadelphia’s season, as the Phils went 22-29 under Girardi and are currently 47-26 under Thomson. Not even losing one of the sport’s best hitters slowed down the Phillies, since they have a 31-20 record since Harper was sidelined.
Harper’s thumb was broken by a Blake Snell pitch on June 25, interrupting an unusual but still highly successful season for the 29-year-old. Due to a small UCL tear in his right elbow, Harper hasn’t played a game in the field since April 16, but his bat hasn’t been impacted by his new role as a full-time DH. Harper has 21 home runs and a .318/.385/.599 slash line over his first 275 plate appearances, with that .985 OPS standing as the fourth-highest of Harper’s career.
2022 will go down as another Harper season cut short by injury, but that will be a footnote if he is able to help the Phillies reach their first postseason since 2011. Philadelphia holds the second NL wild card slot, well back of the Braves for the first wild card but with a 3.5-game cushion over the Brewers (the top team outside the playoff picture).