Harper (thumb) hits off tee, eyes Sept. return

August 4th, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- Bryce Harper had a bat in his hands Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. 

He is hitting again. 

Harper is hitting off a practice tee, taking about 20 swings a day since he had three pins removed from his fractured left thumb on Monday. It is progress, but Harper remains weeks away from rejoining the Phillies’ lineup. 

“I don’t like putting timelines on anything, because I don’t know how I’m going to react,” Harper said. “I don’t know how my body’s going to react or how my thumb is going to react. We’re still on the same timeline of September-ish. Come back when I’m ready and able to come back.”

“September-ish” seems to fall in line with most everybody’s expectations, both internally and externally -- Harper could rejoin the Phillies anywhere from the final week of August to the first week of September. Philadelphia never placed Harper on the 60-day injured list when he broke his left thumb on June 25 in San Diego. If it did, he would not have been eligible to be activated until Aug. 25. 

So the Phillies at least kept the possibility alive that he could return before that.

Harper was having one of the best seasons of his career when he got hurt, 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 ranked fourth in the league in batting average, sixth in on-base percentage (.385) and second in slugging percentage (.599).

He said the more he feels comfortable with this thumb, the more he will step up his hitting program

“It’s kind of whatever I can feel,” Harper said. “Any day could be different. I was a little bit more sore today, but nothing that we’re concerned about. I just had pins in it for four weeks.”

Harper has progressed with his throwing program, too. He said he is lightly tossing the baseball from about 45 feet after starting from just five feet last week. He likened the intensity to playing catch with his son, Krew.

But Harper does not feel any pain in his elbow, which is encouraging.

“That’s kind of on the back burner for me right now,” Harper said. “I just want to get back in the lineup, get my swing going and get ready so I can get back in the lineup. I’m not [concerned] about getting back to throwing as quickly as possible, because I really want it to heal so I don’t have to do anything in the offseason -- go under the knife or anything like that.”

The goal is for him to hit and DH, because the Phils are in a postseason race. Harper said he liked what Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski did before Tuesday’s Trade Deadline. Philadelphia acquired right-handers Noah Syndergaard and David Robertson, outfielder Brandon Marsh and infielder Edmundo Sosa.

“[Dombrowski] added what we needed,” Harper said.