PHILADELPHIA -- Bryce Harper guaranteed Tuesday that he will play again in 2022.
“Oh, I’ll be back,” he said.
But when? Harper declined to offer a timetable to return from last Wednesday’s surgery to repair his fractured left thumb.
“I don’t want to hope or think about anything,” Harper said at Citizens Bank Park. “I just want to go day by day and be back when I can, whenever I feel healthy, whenever that is, to help this team win. If we’re in it, if we’re out of it, I’m going to come back and play no matter what, just so I know that I can go out there and play the game. I don’t want that to be my last day playing this year. No matter what the outcome, I’m going to come back and I’ll be playing so I can assure myself I can go out there and play the game at a high level that I want to. Like I said, even if we’re in it or we’re out of it, I’ll be back playing.”
A source said last week that Harper could rejoin the Phillies as early as mid-August. The thought remains that Harper could be back before September. But asked if mid-to-late August was a “completely wacky” idea, Harper did not take the bait.
“I’ll be back when I need to, right?” Harper said. “I don’t want to give anybody a timetable, because I don’t know. I don’t want to say, 'Yeah, I’m going to be back here, be back here.' I don’t think that’s fair to you guys or fair to my teammates or anybody else. If I knew a specific date that I’d be back, I’d tell you. But I just don’t think that’s fair to anybody.”
Rothman Orthopedics hand specialist Dr. Pedro J. Beredjiklian performed Harper’s surgery. He inserted three pins into the left thumb, which Harper broke June 25 when Padres pitcher Blake Snell hit him with a 97 mph fastball.
Harper spoke with multiple doctors before he chose Beredjiklian for the surgery. Doctors told him that if he had a normal job, they would have let the thumb heal naturally. Of course, Harper does not have a normal job, which is why he has three pins in the thumb.
The pins must remain for four weeks, Harper said. If the pins are removed four weeks from surgery, they could be out around July 27.
There will be little more than two months remaining in the Phillies’ season at that point. Even if the thumb heals as hoped, Harper will need to have a rehab assignment before he rejoins the club. He does not know how many plate appearances he might need before he feels ready to face big league pitching again.
“Hopefully it will heal as quick as possible and I’ll be back,” Harper said. “I want to get back, as everybody knows. I want to play. I want to be out there with my teammates and grinding each day. They’re playing well right now. I’m excited for them.”
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.
Before Harper broke his thumb, he was scheduled to have the elbow re-evaluated last week. Those tests have been delayed. But Harper said when he can put a glove on his left hand, he plans to test the arm again.
But for now, Harper is limited to watching the games, either from the dugout or at home.
“I hate sitting there watching,” Harper said. “It’s crazy watching my son Krew because he knows all the players and their names. I’m like, ‘What?’ I’ll sit there with him. I’m looking at my wife and I’m like, ‘Is this how it is all the time?’ I think it’s definitely different. I’ve been in a lot of pain the last couple days. Just being at home, not sitting in the dugout has been rough for me. But it’s been cool, kind of sitting there with my little man, watching the game and seeing the guys win.”