Bryce Harper nearing return
It has not been an easy campaign for the Philadelphia Phillies, who find themselves sitting in third place in the National League East. Despite being 12 games above .500 with a 67-55 record, the Phillies remain 11 games off the New York Mets sitting atop of the division. They are fighting for a Wild Card spot though and will need all the help they can get down the stretch.
Fortunately, they received some good news this week as it looks like Bryce Harper may be finally ready to return after missing significant time this season. He has been out since June 25th, when he broke his thumb against the San Diego Padres after being hit by a Blake Snell fastball. Harper is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday night with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, with the Phillies hoping to have him back in the lineup next Monday when they begin a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“It’s always a goal to have in mind, where you want to be and what you want to do,” Harper said Sunday about his potential return, via ESPN. “But we don’t know until I play [rehab games]. We can all talk about when and where, but we just don’t know until I play and how I feel with contact and things like that.
“I’m going to be smart with it. I’m going to be very smart with it and come back when I see fit and when my hand is feeling better and I can help this team every day and not just play two days, one day off, play two days, one day off. I’m going to come back at full strength playing.”
While Harper did acknowledge he isn’t 100% yet, he does believe it is getting better and that it is at about 85%.
“I think our biggest thing is the [mobility] of it, I guess, isn’t there,” he acknowledged. “That’s why I say 85, somewhere in there, just because of the [mobility] part of it. But I think the strength and everything like that is there. I think as we progress, it’s going to get better and better, I hope.”
The worst part about the timing of Harper’s injury is that it came during a time when the 29-year-old was performing at an elite level. He was batting .318 with 15 home runs, 48 RBIs and a .984 OPS in 64 games played and had the fifth best batting average in the National League. His loss was a significant blow for a Phillies side that is desperate to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Harper was named the National League MVP for the second time in his career last season, and he will provide a significant boost to the Phillies when he is able to return to the lineup. It remains to be seen whether he will be able to help them get over the line and end their playoff drought, but his return certainly cannot hurt their chances.