Phillies superstar Bryce Harper played through a torn UCL in his right elbow for the overwhelming majority of the 2022 MLB season. That’s why he was their designated hitter for all but eight games with the most recent appearance in right field coming April 16. The Phillies made it known earlier this month that Harper would have surgery to repair the UCL and he indeed underwent Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, the team announced.
The team indicated that the reigning NLCS MVP could potentially return around the All-Star break for DH duties and then play right field toward the end of the season.
If the recovery timeline seems aggressive after having Tommy John surgery, it’s probably because we’re used to seeing pitchers take 12-18 months, or more, in returning from the procedure.
Harper swung the bat quite well through last season with the injury and it’s possible he’ll get all his range of motion and the strength needed to swing before he can let loose with throws from right field. That means, as the team announced, he’ll come back as a DH before moving out to right field. We know the Phillies are prepared to deal with that reality since they just did it.
It also wouldn’t be surprising to see Harper beat the timetable, as he’s done so before with other injuries.
Harper, 30, hit .286/.364/.514 (145 OPS+) with 28 doubles, 18 homers, 65 RBI, 63 runs, 11 steals and 2.5 WAR in 99 games last season. Remember, he also suffered a fractured thumb after being hit by a pitch and that cost him two months. He then hit .349/.414/.746 with seven doubles, six home runs, 13 RBI and 12 runs in 17 playoff games as the Phillies made a run to the World Series.
In the regular season, the Phillies went 87-75, but they also showed they can survive without Harper. They went 32-20 when he was out with the broken thumb. Obviously, however, they are a much better team with him in the lineup and if things go well, that’ll be from sometime around the All-Star break through the rest of the season in 2023.