A little over five months after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Bryce Harper might be on the verge of returning to the field. According to The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Harper is scheduled for a Monday appointment with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed Harper’s TJ surgery on November 23. If Dr. ElAttrache gives the green light, Harper will likely be activated from the 10-day injured list on Tuesday, when the Phillies face the Dodgers.
While pitchers have a pretty firm 12-to-15 month recovery timeline for Tommy John procedures, hitters face shorter timelines, obviously because they don’t have to rebuild arm strength to the same extent. For instance, Shohei Ohtani underwent a TJ procedure at the start of October 2018 and was back in the Angels lineup as a DH on May 7, 2019. That might be the closest comp for Harper’s situation since he will only be acting as a designated hitter for now, though he has been working out as a first baseman for the first time in his career. A return to his customary spot in right field late in the season might be a possibility if Harper’s elbow continues to improve.
With all this in mind, Harper is still beating Ohtani’s timeline by nearly two full months, making this something of an unprecedented recovery from TJ surgery. The Phillies initially targeted the All-Star break for Harper’s potential return, and yet as the weeks and months went by following his surgery, more optimism began to grow about a quicker comeback. Harper started hitting off a tee in early March, then advanced to regular battting-cage work by the end of the month, and has since been taking batting practice and even participating in simulated games against live pitching.
Most tellingly, Harper was only placed on the 10-day injured list to begin the season, rather than the 60-day IL. Philadelphia president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said at the time that the decision was made because the Phillies didn’t have any immediate need for a 40-man roster spot, but it seemed clear that there was already a possibility that Harper would be ready before the end of May.
“He’s absolutely amazing. He’s a great athlete,” Dombrowski said about Harper to Gelb. “He works hard. He’s focused. He wants to get back. I mean, it’s amazing what he’s accomplished. We have that next step (with Dr. ElAttrache), but the progress he’s made is phenomenal.”
Monday’s appointment shouldn’t be seen as a foregone conclusion, as it is possible a full examination and check-up might reveal some type of physical issue that would set back Harper’s progress. That said, Harper played most of the 2022 season with a small UCL tear, and while he was limited to DH duty, it didn’t impact his effectiveness at the plate. Harper hit .286/.364/.514 over 426 plate appearances during the regular season and then posted a whopping 1.160 OPS over 71 PA in the playoffs, winning NLCS MVP honors en route to leading Philadelphia to the National League pennant.
Getting Harper back at anywhere near his top form would be a huge boost to a Phillies team that has started to heat up, winning seven of their last eight games. With Harper at DH, Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos would again be the regular corner outfielders. Alec Bohm has filled in capably at first base for the injured Rhys Hoskins, and if Harper is able to eventually play some first base, Bohm can move back to third base (though Edmundo Sosa has been playing very well in regular duty at the hot corner).
That`d be much sooner than I anticipated
Excellent! Baseball is better with Harper playing.
Yes! Now the A’s and Royals will be at least .500 teams now! Everyone gets better when Harper is playing!
He said baseball is better with harper playing so I assume those two teams will get to .500 and be better. I guess that’s what he meant.
You know you don’t have to post every thought that passes through your brain, right?
Yeah I know.
Sarcasm and ignorance do not blend well. There will always b bad teams. But regardless of other teams fortunes the sport as a whole benefits when the premier talents are playing and able to b seen by fans.
It doesn’t take much effort at all to put the e after b. Be is such an easy word to spell.
And the comment boards are better without your ridiculous comments. Delete your account and find a different way to be a troll.
retired- that was pretty funny
I’m an avid Phillies fan, but I’m not sure rushing him back is what’s best for him or the team.
Agreed, but I imagine a doctor wouldn’t really be rushing him. He’ll make the right decision. It’s nice to see the Phillies playing good baseball after a horrible start. If they need to wait longer for Harper’s return, that’d be fine.
Dr. Neal ElAttrache is one of the best there is. He has 30 years experience and is literally one of the best in the country. He “is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles and is recognized for treatment and research of knee, shoulder, and elbow injuries. He serves on the Board of Directors at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, and Chairman of the Board of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Foundation. He is Co-Chair of Medical Affairs for the Kerlan-Jobe Institute, a collaboration with Cedars-Sinai”
He won’t be rushing anyone back and Harper and the Phillies are smart enough to abide by his word.
My buddy did a very competitive program with Dr. James Andrew and had to move to and live in Alabama. He now works in the D.C. area with college and pro athletes on pain management and spinal surgery. It’s funny to me when people question these prominent doctors’ opinions who have well-established reputations. When my friend first told me about getting into the program years ago, I was like “holy sheet” and he was thoroughly shocked I knew about James Andrews as I’m not in the medical field.
How did I become a Bryce Harper fan so much? I wish him to be super and back, even though I’m not Nats or Phillie.
He is excited about baseball and competes on a level that honors my manic baseball fandom. Jeesh, I hope this is right, if Bryce becomes sad medical story then we all lose. A lot!
I can’t wait for Bryce Harper to come back, but I hope he doesn’t rush back right this moment I need to make sure he’s ready to go we’ve turned it around now. like I said I wouldn’t mind having them in line up this week but at the same point it wouldn’t be a horrible thing if you was out for another 2 weeks
Good news for competition!
Look out for the Phillies now they are right there in the NL East and Dombrowski is a winner.
Trajekt might have just made position-player rehab assignments obsolete.
Let the Jake Cave era go on for another week or so….
Philly has WS aspirations. As most of us feel, please don’t rush Harper back….even if it’s a couple weeks. His return will boost the team no doubt….
And with the pitching turning a corner the past couple weeks…..things in the NL East just got much more interesting.
They, being the Phillies, and Harper are not making the decision. The doctor(s) is/are. Unless the medical people put money on them to win the division, they won’t rush anything.
Yes. This. The Phillies won’t rush anything. A medical professional will offer his expert opinion. The Phillies will follow that advice.
Huge Braves and Yankees fan here but Harper just might be my favorite player.
Harper wants to play – ball player.
Defensively the Phillies are better with Bohm at 1B and Sosa at 3B so i would just let Harper DH til he’s ready for RF.
Matt Chapman at 3B next season for the Phillies with Bohm at 1B while team with Trea Turner would be a nice left side of the Infield
The Phillies payroll situation is getting very tight so I don’t think they’ll sign Chapman. Keeping Nola has to be their top priority next offseason
Is there a player with a bigger pair than Harper?
If the Dr. gives him the green light to fully resume baseball activities outside of throwing full strength, then the Phillies & Harper decide if he plays in thd minotd at all. Most players would absolutely go on a rehab, but last year Harper went on what was supposed to be a 5-7 day assignment, and after hitting 3 HRs in 2 Minor league games, they cut the assignment short and brought him back. Charlie Manuel and Larry Bowa spoke last night and said that they think Bryce should do a minor league assignment bc he hasn’t has an AB since November. Harper doesn’t want to do a minor league wrap, bc it was circus when he went down last year, and he doesn’t want to disrupt team chemistry for the Iron Pigs.
I think Bryce will be brought up after this road trip. He loves the game so much and is the ultimate competitor. He has been cleared for everything other tham throwing & sliding already. The visit will either clear him to slide, or hold him back another week
This is impressive. Like him or loathe him, no one can question Harper’s efforts in getting back on the field. Healing takes time, but to come back this early, he’s clearly been disciplined in his recovery.
So, if this Neal ElAttrache (El Re-Attache?) doctor guy says Harper is good to go, and then Bryce snaps the elbow 1st/2nd game back, can the Phils sue the doctor till he bleeds from every orifice?
Probably not but I wouldn’t rule out dredging the Schuykill River in hopes of finding Dr.Neal if indeed that should come to pass.
I’m an avid fan of Forensic Files. So I’ll be watching with peaked interest, if not piqued interest.
I’m an avid fan of Forensic Files. So I’ll be watching with piqued interest. And peaked interest.
Once again. With feeling
I… (sighs) am an avid fan of Forensic Files. So… (Points index finger for emphasis) I’ll be peeking, with piqued interest. And peaked interest.
If he is healthy enough to hit and run, he will be a huge boost for the Phillies offense.
What does being a great athlete have to do with healing from surgery?
So even if he’s cleared to play, shouldn’t he, well, umm, have three weeks of rehab and minor league ABs? Or does having TJS and then not playing for over six months mean players now get to go straight to the majors to face pitchers in peak form?
I can’t tell if you think minor league rehab stints are required or something, but Harper’s been playing simulated games against major league pitching for weeks now. Why would he want to risk another injury in meaningless minor league games?
They have had a couple of articles on here that referenced why the Phillies are not going to send him down for a rehab assignment. They were shooting at getting him 46 AB against MLB and minor league pitchers, the same amount he would get in spring training, while he was still with the team and then moving him straight to the MLB lineup once he is cleared to play.
To the Kris Bryants of the baseball world: this is how you man up. That is all.
Different kind of injury. You can’t “man up” for a back injury. Your spine isn’t a tendon.
Both Harper and Bryant will listen to doctors. It’s not about manning up. It’s about being medically cleared.
Pads fan, what do you think causes “lower back tightness”?
I’ll give you a guess, it begins with a “t” and rhymes with endons
it’s not hitting that worries me for an early return, it’s Harper’s enthusiasm and hustle. I worry he will reinjure himself stealing a base or stretching a single into a double. He slides like a man possessed. For the first 30-45 days, coach needs to stress a clean single is good for the recovery.
Harper’s not wired that way. Cast thy fate and caution to the wind, baby!
They have been re-working his slide………………
Once upon a time, Robert Griffin III was asking Harper to teach him how to slide. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.