#Phillies #slugger #ulnar #ligament #repair #Thanksgiving #Eve
CLEARWATER, Fla. — The scar on the inside of Bryce Harper’s right elbow matched the burgundy shade of his throwback shorts Thursday.
The Phillies superstar’s sunny disposition also meshed with the weather at BayCare Ballpark on Harper’s first day of spring training.
“I had a great offseason after I had the surgery, felt really good, I still feel good now,” Harper said amid a press gathering today. “I don’t want to put timelines on anything because I’ve never dealt with anything like an elbow, so it’s definitely different waters for me. (I’m) just trying to take it day by day and see how I feel.”
As has been his tendency, Harper rejected placing projections on his return from Tommy John surgery on his right (throwing) elbow. Like last season, when he injured the ligament in April, the goal is to get back in the Phillies’ lineup as a daily designated hitter before he can return to the outfield.
Harper only went as far as concurring with the general milepost that the Phillies set when he went under the knife in November of a possible All-Star break return. That strategy proved effective last year, when Harper didn’t set timelines on returning from a fractured thumb and ended up back in less than two months.
For now, he’s adamant about not rushing a return to the outfield or pushing the pace too hard on throwing, since he can contribute as a DH. He also emphasized that he’s still healing, and not ready for full-on rehab.
“I’ve got a long ways to go,” Harper said. “I’m just trying to take it day by day, be grateful for the day I’m in or the workout I’m doing or that next step, so just trying to hit every mark, hit every step and go from there.”
Harper, who reported Wednesday, is able to take solo dry swing drills. He and the Phillies’ training staff will evaluate other preliminary avenues in his rehab as the week goes on, but he said he’s happy with his ability to keep up his other fitness-related activities beyond the arm. While he’d like to get back in the outfield as soon as possible, he’s not going to be reckless about a process that is going on a year since the initial injury.
“We’re not going to rush,” he said. “We’re going to be smart about it. We knew at the end of the year last year and me playing through it the whole year that this might happen. We’re thankful for the DH, again.”
The elbow and thumb issues limited Harper to 99 games last season, the team opting for a course of treatment that they had hoped would obviate the need for the “Tommy John” surgery. He batted .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs. Though the 2021 National League MVP struggled upon returning to action in late August, he had a blistering postseason, with a .349 average, 13 extra-base hits and a 1.160 OPS.
Harper’s first step is getting reintegrated with the group. He’ll be able to work out with the team, which has added his close friend Trea Turner among other pieces in the offseason. Harper has experience contributing behind the scenes even when he’s not in the lineup. He’s hoping to strike that balance again this year, for however long he’s out of commission.
“I want to stay out of the way as much as possible but be there as well,” he said. “You never want to be getting in anybody’s way. The guys that are playing, you want them to go out and play and to act like you’re not playing. So I just try to be the best teammate I can, help when I can, do things in the clubhouse and on the field when I can, and just cheer everybody on and hopefully we’re in a good spot when we get back.”
|Read More Latest News From United States of New Jersey|