The latest Phillies news about Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, and Rob Thomson
With about 50 games remaining in the regular season, the Philadelphia Phillies will play perhaps one of their biggest series in the past decade this weekend — taking on the division-leading New York Mets at Citi Field. The Phillies will be without at least one of their star outfielders throughout the entirety of the series in reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper.
Friday morning on MLB Network, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand offered an update on the seven-time All-Star — who has not played since June 25 due to being struck in the thumb by a 97-miles-per-hour pitch from San Diego Padres left-hander Blake Snell:
"“They are saying September is the hope. But he is going to come back as a DH only. They cut his throwing program the other day. I think the idea is to get him back for his bat and just deal with that going forward.”"
Harper’s thumb injury has not been the only issue clouding over his fourth season in red pinstripes, as he hasn’t played right field since mid-April due to a strain in his right elbow.
For a short time, there was a belief that Harper would play right field upon his return, but it seems the Phillies will take things easy and only focus on getting his bat back for a potential postseason run. Adding a perennial home run threat in Harper next month to an already-deep lineup would be excellent news.
Phillies left fielder Kyle Schwarber is not expected to miss much time.
Kyle Schwarber, meanwhile, was pulled early from Thursday’s matinee series finale against the Miami Marlins due to a mild right calf strain. According to Feinsand, Schwarber’s injury is not yet an “injury list situation”:
"“The Schwarber injury — the calf injury — is a day-to-day thing. It’s not an IL situation yet. The closer you get to September, the less of a need there is for that IL. I think [he is] day-to-day right now. Maybe we see him this weekend in Citi Field, maybe we don’t.”"
According to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury who says he “spoke briefly” to an upbeat Schwarber on Friday — the National League home runs leader has responded well to treatment and even hit in a batting cage. The Athletic’s Matt Gelb interestingly added that it is unclear whether Schwarber is 100 percent out for Friday’s series opener against the Mets — hence not ruling out a possible pinch-hit appearance off the bench.
Nonetheless, the Phillies believe Schwarber will avoid an IL stint. Similar to Harper, getting Schwarber’s presence back in the lineup sooner than later would only help the team’s chances of snapping its long postseason drought.
When will Rob Thomson officially be named Phillies manager?
With a 40-20 record through his first 60 games, Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson is off to one of the best starts in Phillies managerial history. This begs the question — when will the organization remove his interim tag? Feinsand believes the most likely scenario for this to occur would be after the season:
"“I would imagine it would be afterward. There is probably no reason to do it in-season unless they have decided, ‘he is our guy. Let’s take the interim tag off and show the guys in the clubhouse he is our guy and will be here going forward,’ — unless Dave Dombrowski decides he would like to at least think about this beyond this season. But certainly, the way they are playing, the way the clubhouse feels, and the way the team looks right now, I don’t see any reason not to take that interim tag off.”"
The last time the Phillies had a managerial search, Joe Girardi, Dusty Baker, and Buck Showalter were among the reported finalists. The organization ultimately went with the baseball veteran who won the 2009 World Series against them. Ironically, Baker and Showalter have made significant strides at the helm of the Houston Astros and New York Mets, respectively, while Girardi is now unemployed.
Feinsand avoided crediting Thomson as the sole reason why the Phillies have played better as of late, but he still thinks the Canadian native has made an impact:
"“Sometimes, that managerial change, a different voice, and just a sort of different feeling in the clubhouse can help. And I think that has helped. … It’s hard to argue against him being the logical leading candidate for that job.”"
It is good to hear essentially nothing but good injury updates regarding Harper and Schwarber, as well as more praise for Thomson. The Phillies will have a tough task facing the Mets in seven of their next 10 games — but under Thomson, expect them to be prepared for the challenge.