We knew that Bryce Harper was exploring options regarding treatment of his UCL injury. Those options have been explored, and it appears that a decision has been made.
Bryce Harper will have UCL surgery next Wednesday. Not sure if it will be Tommy John surgery or not, so timetable to return in 2023 is unknown.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) November 16, 2022
That sounds ominous, but it might not be as bad as we think.
Don’t let Tommy John freak you out. It doesn’t mean Harper would miss 2023. Shohei Ohtani had Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1, 2018. He returned to DH for the Angels on May 7, 2019.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) November 16, 2022
If he does have Tommy John surgery, that is generally not a “miss at least an entire season” procedure for position players, although there’s a high likelihood that Harper will be serving as the designated hitter upon his return. As for when that return will be, if he follows a similar recovery schedule as Ohtani, that would have him back in action around late June.
I’m sure none of us would have rather the Phillies missed the playoffs or made an early exit, but this is an unfortunate side effect of their postseason run since it likely delayed this surgery by a month.
It isn’t ideal to miss an MVP-caliber player for almost half the season, but the Phillies were able to withstand an extended absence by Harper last year. The more worrisome part is that Harper was clearly not at full strength upon his return and didn’t really start hitting well until the playoffs. The Phillies’ chances of returning to the playoffs will be diminished if Harper misses the first three months of the season and needs another month on top of that to get back to his usual form.
As for options to replace Harper while he recovers, the Phillies have a few:
Opens up a Darick Hall path to the roster, can DH/1B vs RHPs, can use time vs LHPs to rest Schwarber/Castellanos at DH and give Marsh the CF reps vs LHPs and get Vierling vs LHPs. https://t.co/bc7uOjtl78— Matt Winkelman (@Matt_Winkelman) November 16, 2022
Not having Harper locked in at designated hitter does provide the Phillies with more flexibility in positions, and this is good news for those of you who wanted to see more of Darick Hall.
We’ll continue to track his recovery throughout the offseason.