May 2: The Phillies have officially announced Harper’s activation, optioning outfielder Jake Cave in a corresponding move.
May 1: Bryce Harper has been cleared to return to the Phillies and is expected to be in the club’s lineup as the designated hitter tomorrow, per Jeff Passan of ESPN.
Harper was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in May of last year but played through the ailment, serving as the designated hitter since he was able to hit but not throw. He eventually underwent Tommy John surgery in November, after the club had charged all the way to the World Series. The club initially announced his expected return for around the All-Star break in July, but it became clear in recent weeks that he had a chance to beat that. The Phils never put him on the 60-day injured list, leaving the door open for him to return in the first couple months of the season.
It had recently been reported that Harper would be visiting Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the Los Angeles-based surgeon who performed his TJS procedure, while the club is in town to play the Dodgers. It seemed earlier today that Harper got the good news he was looking for, as he took to Instagram and posted some pictures of himself with the teasing message “Aye Pham. You ready?” It now seems to be confirmed that he has been given the green light to return to hitting, allowing him to take up the DH spot for the Phils.
Once he’s back on the lineup, he will have completed what seems to be the quickest return to action after going under the knife for Tommy John. Shohei Ohtani was previously one of the fastest to get back on the field, as he underwent the procedure in October of 2018 and was back on the field in May of the following year.
Harper will obviously provide a huge boost to the lineup, having been one of the best hitters in the league for over a decade now. Even while dealing with the UCL tear and missing time with a broken thumb last year, he still hit .286/.364/.514 for a wRC+ of 138, indicating he was 38% better than the league average hitter. If there’s one small downside to Harper’s return, it’s that it will make the club a bit less flexible in setting its lineups. So far this year, most of the DH time has gone to Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos, who are both generally considered subpar defenders in the outfield corners. Assuming the Phils have the freedom to use Harper on an everyday basis, that will likely mean having Schwarber and Castellanos in the field more often.
But that’s a small price to pay for an elite bat like Harper. What remains to be seen is when he will be able to return to the field. The initial timeline was that he could potentially return to right field towards the end of the season. However, Harper has been beating every timeline that’s been put in front of him and has also been getting some work in at first base. That position generally involves less stress on the throwing elbow than playing in the outfield and could perhaps allow him to move off the designated hitter spot earlier.
Regardless of when Harper can again play defense, he’s a tremendous boost to the lineup after missing just over a month of the 2023 season. The Phils have managed to stay afloat without him, going 15-14 so far. They are a few games out in the playoff race right now but should get some extra momentum for the remainder of the schedule.
Damn, that’s fast. Hope it’s not too fast.
Great news that Harper will be able to play baseball super fast after getting the Tommy John surgery.
How is it everything is done half-fast but takes twice as long?
Math, meet ohyea
Wow no minor league rehab assignment?
Why waste the at bats if your MLB team needs all the help it can get now? Although, I guess you could send him on an assignment and have one of the terrible outfielders DH.
He’s been hitting in simulated games to avoid minor league rehab.
I would never say mistakes aren’t made but especially in a situation such as this O would be inclined to trust the front office making a good decision. You are probably less inclined to take risks with the best player on your team, one of the best players in the game who you have invested more than a few hundred million into.
Because 0-4 with 3 Ks, and taking up the DH spot on a very limited def team could be detrimental. The only ball he hit was a weak ground ball to 3rd. He looked like a beer league softball trying to make contact. It wasn’t even the Dodgers best pitchers in a blowout game.
LOL! Please. You can’t take one game played and make any conclusions on it.
@Zerbs Almost the entire team went 0 for everything with horrible swings and contact. Should Schwarber and Realmuto go back to the minors too? It was a bad night all around, not just Harper.
That’s really impressive in such short time. I do wonder if position players with bummed elbows would be more open to TJS now or is Harper a recovery outlier?
From what I understand, the tj surgery Harper had was not as extreme as the kind pitchers have.
I don’t know they extent of it but I’m sure there are active position players now that do need it. If the med tech has advanced so much, we may see more of it happening. Need more data for sure.
Position players do come back faster from TJS than pitchers but this is a record even for them. The previous record according to ESPN was Tony Womack who came back after 180 days. Jay Buhner was next after 201 days so this is a combination of improved medical techniques over the years and being an outlier at 160 days almost 3 weeks earlier than Womack.
DH isn’t a position player
He is going to play at a position eventually. But you’re right, when he’s in the lineup as a DH, he isn’t.
Yeah. I think Phillies would be wise to keep him at DH for most if not all of this season. He can throw next year.
He may be playing first later this season, which would give the team more flexibility with its lineups and who plays in the outfield.
First base would be a far bigger strain on his throwing arm than RF would ever be.
Schwarber’s the reigning home run king so he’s got to bat. He’s not the best defensive OFer so DH is ideal for him. I understand that Harper likely wants to play the field in order to get Schwarber in the lineup, but I agree he probably shouldn’t rush it.
No dog in this fight. But the Phils should put their best interests first. If that means putting up with Schwarber’s glove in order to monitor Harper’s health… Vice doing without Harper all together…
As a neutral guy, I edge forward to watch either guy swing the bat!
I think Phillies would be wise to keep him at DH for most if not all of this season.
I have scientifically determined that he would be better off at 1st.
And that has nothing to do with my fantasy team needing a 1B.
Well how about them apples?
Just watched GWH……Love the “mah boy is wicked smaht” line before that…
Joe It All
This is a win for baseball and win, win, win for Philadelphia. Baseball is always better when it’s best players are in the lineup.
Incredible recovery. The game is better with its stars.
I’ll try to say this without stirring up a pot, but I hope he wasn’t granted a therapeutic use exemption for something that artificially improved his recovery time and will aid his performance.
I’m going to assume the best for now and wish him well.
Painter should get it now just to get it over with. He’s 20 years old and should recover quickly ( not as fast as Bryce).
Nola went through the same process and never got the surgery? So maybe they have a decent knowledge of what’s going on inside the arm? I know there have been a few others as well.
But whenever those arm buzzwords come up…. I do feel a little sick.
fast forward a few years later and now Nola looks like hes just about out of gas. Phils face a really interesting decision this offseason, if they are attempting to resign him.
A few yrs ago? This happened in 2016…And he hasn’t missed a start since 2017. He thinly admitted to struggling a bit with the new clock. Gassed? We have our opinions but I do not agree….
As for the contract decision, you are spot on. They lose Wheeler after ’24 w/ no real ace options….Interesting indeed.
No pitcher should get surgery unless they need it.
Why is everyone wording the Harper stuff so weird just say “excepted to be activated from the IL tomorrow”
He was never put on the IL
Yes he was
My apologies, I forgot it was the 60 day IL they didn’t put him on.
“Bryce Harper has been cleared to return to the Phillies and is expected to be in the club’s lineup as the designated hitter tomorrow”. Nothing weird about it.
There’s a conspiracy
This guy loves to play… biggest mistake the Yankees ever made not getting him. He’s tough and he’s a real gamer.
“CaShMaN sToLe StAnToN fRoM mIaMi” – a great deal of Yankees fans in 2018
Craven: and all the non-Yankee fans said that Jeter gave the Yankees a sweetheart deal. Don’t forget that side of the coin. Now those same fans act as if Cashman made a bad deal. See how that goes? Which was it? A sweetheart deal or bad deal?
Utah remember when Cashman flat out said they preferred Tulowitzki over Jeter in 2010 and the “reality potion” comment? Were getting up there in age haha.
In 2005 Cashman almost left the Yankees for the Dodgers too and were gonna double his salary but Cashman stayed since the Yankees offered to give him complete control of baseball operations.
Now we here in 2023 with a $250 million dollar payroll and a bunch of guys (half of which are bargain bin acquisitions) batting 220 or less and an IL filled to the brim with all stars. 🙂
Didn’t like it then.
Don’t like it now.
A statcast creature who never runs, and then pulls something the first time he tries.
And the end of the Jake Cave era is upon us…..
Glad he was cleared and ready to return. I wonder if Bryce’s recent “rehab”style will become a thing with the most talented of the players?
Probably not for pitchers or position players in important defensive positions like SS or CF. I would guess it would be for anyone that is only going to DH.
There will probably come a time in the not too distant future when tj and ACL injuries will take much less time to recover from.
Jake “The Panther” Cave never leaves, he waits and pounces. He will ambush the next open roster spot before a gm even knew they needed one
The Bear Cave Jake wakes every spring from his hibernation in need of baseball and claims his roster spot from the young(rookies) and weak(injured) among the the teams. His left handedness, diving catches and sweet beard all give him an edge on the competition
When they were 1-5 and sputtering on the runway with only two engines, the ledges were filled with anxious Phillies phans. No one would have seen them above .500 with Bryce back on the active roster as of May 1st. Awesome news!
Phils fans back off the ledge and on the concourse for now…
Why not play him tonight if hes cleared?
The report by Lauber I believe said that the Phillies wanted to give him that first day to get things in order and prepared.
It’s vague, but I don’t look a gift Phanatic in the snout.
Harper is a beast, he’s a fiery guy to watch play, you have a great player Phillies fans!
This is great! Now I can continue to emulate him in every way possible. Dress like him, wear his jersey, grow my beard, work out so I can be shaped like him and try to emulate any other things about him as I usually do
You’ll shame us all, Seamus
Angels & NL West
Harper is no Brandon Marsh, but he’ll be a welcome addition to the lineup nonetheless.
Stan the Man
Very funny…like in “what have you done for me lately” or “Bryce, who” or “Oh, you mean Bryson Stott’s buddy”
Stan the Man
Ranger, next week? Painter, this summer?
I hate the Phillies and don’t care much for Harper, but if he is even close to himself, it is a win for baseball. I never root for injury even from players on teams I hate.
No rehab assignment?
Hats off to Harper!
Bart Harley Jarvis
Bryce, Roy, or otherwise?
This is the greatest day in the history of Philadelphia
In West Philadelphia, born and raised,
“That position (first base) generally involves less stress on the throwing elbow than playing in the outfield.”
I don’t know what the writer(s) base that on. Most of the throws on the infield are harder, quicker throws, snap type throws.
A first baseman who only throws the ball in careful underhanded lobs will only cost his team maybe four outs a week. Harper can easily make that up in hits.
If Harper is willing or able to do that. A runner rounds third and dashes for home… Bryce can quell his competitive tendencies? If Bryce is in RF, a cutoff man can run out and take his lobs. In the infield, things develop much quicker.
I’m looking at it like a risk/reward thing. In theory, you’re correct. In point of fact, Bryce, to his credit, puts the Phils first.
Getting the vibes that this isn’t going to end well for any of the involved parties. We will see. Not sure why you’d put Harper at risk when it’s literally May 1st and the pitching is the problem. Idk care what Bryce Harper does in 4 a bats. It’s not going to be enough to overcome the 13 you gave up to the Dodgers tonight.
This is misconception. Do you know how many checks Harper had to go through to get cleared? Medical professionals gave him the go ahead. The Phillies aren’t rushing anything. Keep in mind this was an injury he had last season while he was mashing in the playoffs. There’s a lot of money invested in Harper. The Phillies aren’t stupid. He wouldn’t be playing if professionals didn’t give him the okay. Ohtani, the best player in baseball, had this same surgery. His recovery time was a bit longer because he was a pitcher, but he was fine. Harper is going to DH.
Man, I gotta give Harper props. When he was with the Nats, I never wanted the RS to even talk to him. With Philly, the dude has taken over the complete leadership role. Granted, he was a kid with the Nats, but still………..
He definitely matured, but I think perceptions changed as well. Bat flipping and staring at homeruns is part of the game now. In Harper’s early days, “old-school” was in and any kind of extra emotion on the field was frowned upon. Now we have homerun hats, tritons, and more. I think baseball is better for it.
Still remember Hamels plunking him during his first pa…..
Loved it then and still love it now…..
Now love the DH as well…..Sights set on 2nd place.
I feel bad for Harper. He’s a classic old-time player that just wants to shut his mouth and go about business
But he’s forced to be lovey-dovey with today’s weak “hey bro” males
The game has become pathetic. Acuna gets hit in the shoulder and he’s on the ground crying and comes out of the game
Soft men have invaded every sector of society
Well stated. Sad and true.
Here’s hoping that Bryce swings his hard bat mightily, and that his balls be plentiful.
why cave? with pache gone I figured they would keep him and let one of our pen arms that being beat up
They wanted more of a balance between righties and lefties, but I sort of agree with you. I’d rather have Cave than Guthrie or Clemens at the moment.
Wow hopefully it isn’t too soon.
I saw a recent video stating that bobby cox record of 162 ejections was the most unbreakable record in baseball Harper is off to a hot start. One game back and one ejection, if he keeps that pace he will own cox.
And he went 0-3 witb 2Ks and 1 LOB. Phillies down 8-1 in the bottom of the 8th. He leads off the top of the 9th
Most of the team went 0-for everything. The Phillies don’t have it this series.
And the next day he reached safely in every single at bat.
And the Phillies still lost.
Yes they did due to Sosa’s brutal error that was somehow ruled a hit. Phillies have problems, but Bryce isn’t one of them.