Dave Dombrowski says Phillies star Bryce Harper could be back much sooner than first expected.
In less than 10 days, the Philadelphia Phillies will begin their quest to repeat as National League champions and seek their third championship in franchise history.
One key player the team will be without at the season's onset is two-time National League MVP Bryce Harper, who underwent offseason Tommy John surgery. It was initially reported that Harper would return around the All-Star Break.
Last week, Harper progressed to hitting off a tee — which in itself was a pleasant surprise. The latest Harper injury update shared on Tuesday, however, is even more monumental.
As Phillies Nation's Destiny Lugardo notes, Dave Dombrowski revealed on SportsRadio 94 WIP that Harper is doing great and the Phillies do not plan to put him on the 60-day injured list come Opening Day on March 30.
Dombrowski continued that the club will "keep its options open" but is hopeful that the slugger returns to the lineup before May 29.
The Phillies choosing not to open up a 40-man roster spot by placing Harper on the 60-day injured list is notable. Harper could be added to the list as early as the start of the season. But, as The Athletic's Matt Gelb points out, the Phillies can transfer Harper to the injured list at any point and back-date — keeping his potential activation date the same.
Perhaps the player who could be hurt the most by the Phillies' decision is Scott Kingery, who is currently a non-roster invitee and on the final year of his six-season, $24 million contract.
Potentially having Harper back before the end of May would improve the team's chances to compete with the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets for the National League East title.
Regardless of when Harper returns, he likely would be used solely as the designated hitter. Still, his presence in an already deep lineup that now features World Baseball Classic standout Trea Turner would surely make the rest of the team better.