Bryce Harper set to return from Tommy John surgery on Tuesday

Phillies Bryce Harper
Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper celebrates after his RBI double during the fifth inning in Game 4 of the baseball NL Championship Series between the San Diego Padres and the Phillies on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Philadelphia Phillies are set to receive a big boost to their lineup way sooner than anticipated. Bryce Harper is set to be activated Tuesday after he was cleared to return to hitting in-game action by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the doctor who performed his surgery, after a meeting on Monday afternoon in Los Angeles.

Bryce Harper set to make a surprising return

Harper – who was expected to be a second-half addition near the All-Star break – instead will be in the lineup with a John Cena-esque recovery. The Athletic’s Matt Gelb hinted that the 2022 NLCS MVP may be closer to a return than originally thought with a report about Harper’s meeting with his doctor being scheduled for Monday. The typical rehab timeline for position players recovering from this surgery is 9-12 months. Philadelphia’s favorite son is instead returning in less than six months, having surgery on November 23, 2022 and returning on May 2, 2023 (that’s 160 days to be exact). This will mark the quickest recovery from Tommy John surgery for any MLB player in history.

Bryce Harper took to Instagram to share the news with the world:

Rob Thompson also spoke about how excited Bryce Harper was getting for his imminent return:

“He’s pretty geeked up about getting out there and playing, he’s itching”

Rob Thompson, Phillies manager (per Matt Gelb, The Athletic)

What will Bryce Harper’s return look like?

Now before fans get too excited, Harper will be returning exclusively as a Designated Hitter for the time being. Both Bryce Harper and the organization were willing to be aggressive with the hitting portion of the two-time MVP’s game as long as he was comfortable. Clearance to throw without limitations or potential for reinjury will take some time, but the Phillies do not want to rush that. Fans should be thanking the baseball gods for the universal DH.

After Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins tore his ACL in the preseason and replacement at first base Darick Hall headed to the IL with a torn UCL, the Phillies were in need of a boost to the middle of the lineup. While the young players and Nick Castellanos have stepped up, Harper adds a certain presence to the lineup and the clubhouse that was missing.

During his recovery, Bryce Harper was participating in fielding drills over at first base to help fill the hole left by Hoskins and Hall. This could lead to an even earlier return to playing the field, but you still need to be able to throw comfortably at the other hot corner.

“He’s absolutely amazing,” Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said prior to Monday’s meeting with the doctor. “He’s a great athlete. He works hard. He’s focused. He wants to get back. I mean, it’s amazing what he’s accomplished. We have that next step, But the progress he’s made is phenomenal.”

Bryce Harper
Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Bryce Harper celebrates with the trophy after winning the baseball NL Championship Series in Game 5 against the San Diego Padres on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Ready for battle

Philly has primarily used Kyle Schwarber at DH during Harper’s absence and they’ve received good production from the position (.261/.339/.487), but Harper is a difference-maker. The Phillies enter play Monday averaging 4.34 runs per game, which places them 18th in MLB.

Harper, 30, hit .286/.364/.514 with 18 home runs in 99 games around the elbow injury and a broken thumb last season. He authored a .349/.414/.746 line with six homers, including one that stunned himself and the entire city of Philadelphia, in 17 postseason games as well.  

The Phillies enter Monday night’s series opener against the Dodgers with a 15-14 record, which is two games better than they were at this point last season. They are also red hot, winning 10 of their last 14 and four straight series.