Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper unlikely to return as right fielder

Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

The odds aren’t good for Phillies star Bryce Harper to play RF again in 2022.

Nearly 50 days have passed since star outfielder Bryce Harper last played in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform.

Harper’s last plate appearance came against left-hander Blake Snell and the San Diego Padres — who have since transformed their roster with trade deadline acquisitions Juan Soto, Josh Hader, and Josh Bell — in a late-June road game at Petco Park.

Snell hit Harper with a 97 miles per hour fastball, which fractured his left thumb. Harper was visibly frustrated at Snell and inevitably landed on the injured list. Ever since, Phillies fans have been counting down the days for his return.

Last week, it was reported that Harper had pins removed and began a throwing program — with the goal to come back at some point in September. The latest reports are not as optimistic, but still point to the seven-time All-Star returning sometime next month before the regular season ends.

On Tuesday, Interim Manager Rob Thomson told reporters that Harper is not yet ready to face pitching because he has not “regained as much flexibility in his thumb,” reports The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Scott Lauber.

Meanwhile, the Phillies have also reportedly cut back on Harper’s throwing program because of him experiencing some stiffness in his right elbow.

Despite Harper’s apparent minor injury setback, Thomson believes there’s “no doubt” he will return in 2022. Hopefully, the Phillies are in prime position for postseason baseball by then, and the slugger will get his first taste of meaningful fall baseball since 2017.

The latest news about Harper’s elbow means he likely won’t play right field again this season. Once his thumb improves, however, expect the 29-year-old to be activated from the injured list and receive regular playing time as the designated hitter.

In 64 games this season, Harper is slashing .318/.385/.599 with 15 home runs and 48 RBI. Whenever Harper returns to the lineup, he will be a major boost for the Phillies — who continue to play winning baseball, going 23-13 without their reigning MVP.

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