Over the weekend Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch, crumbling to the ground in pain. Harper was quickly diagnosed with a fractured left thumb. After further evaluation doctors determined the injury will require surgery. This isn’t a surprise, but it does mean that this could be more than a simple break.
There have been reports released that are floating a possible six week recovery time, but this isn’t realistic. 8-10 weeks is a much more likely timeline following thumb surgery, putting a possible return to the lineup in late August or early September. If the Phillies aren’t in playoff contention, they could decide to shut him down. Thumb injuries like this will lead to a significant decrease in power in the first month or two back. The thumb and surrounding muscles lose significant muscle following surgery, which affects grip of the bat. Harper kept his power despite the UCL tear, but this is different.
Now here’s where things get more complicated. Harper has been shut down from throwing due to a partial UCL tear in his right elbow for a few months now. He recently said that it’s likely he will DH the remainder of the season. A what point does it make sense to have him undergo Tommy John surgery and look ahead to 2023? I think we’re about to reach that point.
Harper received a PRP injection and was planning to go the rehab route and avoid surgery. While there have been some players who successfully healed, a majority do end up needing Tommy John surgery. It’s time for a detailed evaluation and follow-up scans to see how the UCL is healing. If it hasn’t made much progress, a decision should be made to undergo elbow surgery. If he undergoes surgery now he should be ready to DH at the start of 2023, with a chance to return to the outfield soon after. A delay of surgery to after the season means Harper likely wouldn’t be ready to hit by April next year, so he would miss the start of the season.
The Phillies have some big decisions to make regarding their superstar. He has a big contract, and they don’t want to be dealing with another lost season because they didn’t handle his injuries properly this year.