Bryce fractures thumb on HBP: 'A gut punch'

June 26th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- The Phillies’ season changed with one pitch Saturday night at Petco Park.

Bryce Harper fractured his left thumb when he was hit by Blake Snell’s 97.2 mph fastball in the fourth inning. Harper does not know how much time he will miss or if he will require surgery, but the Phillies placed him on the 10-day injured list on Sunday. He will have a better sense of a timeline following further evaluation in Philadelphia.

“It’s just a gut punch,” Harper said after the Phillies’ 4-2 victory over the Padres.

Any time missed is a major blow. There is no replacing the reigning NL MVP.

“Things happen for a reason,” Harper said. “Everybody says that. This reason sucks right now, but at the same time, it is what it is. I’ve got to be positive. I’ve got to be positive for the guys in here. I know they’ll pick up the slack. I’m just really bummed for the organization, the guys, the city of Philadelphia, the fans. I love running out there and playing every day. Definitely bummed.”

Harper was having one of the best seasons of his career, despite playing since mid-April with a torn UCL in his right arm. He was batting .318 with 15 home runs, 48 RBIs and a .984 OPS. He ranks fifth in the NL in batting average, sixth in on-base percentage (.385) and second in slugging percentage (.599).

Triple-A Lehigh Valley outfielder Mickey Moniak took Harper's place on the roster.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said. “But they’re not going to cancel any games. We’ve got to play.”

Thomson said the Phillies will rotate Harper’s DH role with Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber and others. But every hitter will need to step up.

They know it.

“It’s devastating, to say the least,” Castellanos said. “He’s having an All-Star, MVP-caliber year. To lose him for any amount of time is too long. We’re all going to have to step up. Me, definitely included. To carry the weight that we’re going to be missing, it’s got to be done.

“We are where we are and we’ve won the games that we have, and I still think that there’s a better version of Rhys [Hoskins], I think there’s a better version of J.T. [Realmuto]. There’s a way better version of myself. I think it’s only a matter of time before all those show up. If they show up at the same, baseball can get real fun, real quick.”

Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski mentioned the Braves won the World Series last year without Ronald Acuña Jr., who suffered a season-ending knee injury on July 10.

They finished the regular season 44-29. The Padres have not had Fernando Tatis Jr. this season. They are 45-29.

Chase Utley broke his right hand on July 26, 2007. He returned Aug. 27. The Phillies went 15-13 without him.

“I mean, you just have to do that,” Dombrowski said. “You lose good players. Again, I don’t know how long he’s going to be out at this point, but, hopefully, he’ll be back at some point. We just need to carry on from here on and do the best job that we possibly can. We’ve still got a lot of good hitters in the lineup.”

It is unknown if Dombrowski will try to make an external move to bolster the lineup. It is too early to say how Harper’s injury might alter the team’s plans for the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline.

“This just happened,” Dombrowski said. “We need to see how we play. I’m still hopeful we’ll play well. We still have a good club.”

Harper dropped to the ground as soon as the pitch hit him. It looked bad, and it was. Dombrowski and others thought it hit Harper’s face, which happened to him in April 2021 in St. Louis. Harper somehow walked away from that one with only a bruised forearm from the ricochet.

“I kind of wish it would have hit me in the face,” Harper said. “I don’t break bones in my face. I can take 98 to the face, but I can’t take 97 to the thumb.”

Harper eventually got up. He shook as he held his thumb. Frustrated, he shouted at Snell. The two have known each other for years. They texted each other during the game. Harper said they are fine.

"Obviously, I felt terrible hitting him,” Snell said. “We've talked; we've handled it. It was never anything. It's just emotional. He plays with a lot of passion, and I can understand why he'd be upset. I'm just as upset as he is.”

The recovery time for some fractured thumbs seems to be four to six weeks. Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson fractured his right thumb earlier this month. Giants first baseman Brandon Belt fractured his thumb last September. Realmuto fractured his right thumb in February 2021.

Each received an estimated recovery of four to six weeks.

But again, Harper won’t know the severity of his fracture until next week.

“I’ve never broken anything in my life,” he said. “This is new to me. … It’s a bummer.”