Bryce Harper won’t be returning to the outfield any time soon. After Thursday night’s game, the Phillies announced that their right fielder has a small tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, which means that he will not be allowed to throw for at least a month, but he can continue to serve as the team’s DH. One caveat to that will be the fact that he will be out of the lineup on Sunday when the Phillies wrap up their trip to the west coast and could miss Tuesday’s game when the team returns home because he will be getting an injection of platelet-rich plasma while the team is in LA and the procedure will keep his sidelined for a couple days.
Harper has not played in the field for nearly a month, but manager Joe Girardi has been able to keep his bat in the lineup by having him serve as the team’s designated hitter during that time. The plan is for him to continue in that role until he is cleared to play defensively. Had the National League not adopted the DH rule for this season, Harper would be on the IL and unable to contribute to the team offensively.
UCL tears can result in Tommy John surgery, which can keep a player out of action for over a year with a difficult period of rehab for the player to go through. At times, UCL tears can also be dealt with using a slightly less involved surgical technique, something that Rhys Hoskins went through following the 2020 season. Hoskins was ready for opening day of the 2021 season. At times, players can be successful using the platelet-rich plasma therapy and rehab, which the Phillies are hoping will be the case for Harper.
Phillies GM Sam Fuld was on the Phillies radio pre-game show Thursday and told Scott Franzke that “in relative terms, this is good news. There’s a plan in place and there is confidence surrounding that plan. The outcome certainly could have been worse.”