Harper DH’d after suffering the injury in April
Bryce Harper tore his UCL way back in April, but with the designated hitter coming into the National League this past season, the Philadelphia Phillies used that to their advantage.
Harper as a DH helped propel the Phillies to their first World Series appearance since 2009.
But now that the offseason is here, Harper decided to go under the knife and have Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, according to multiple reports.
NBC Sports notes that Harper can return to a full-time DH role by mid-May, but that will cost about the first 40 games of the regular season.
Of course, the fact that he can DH helps him return earlier — pitchers normally lose at least a full calendar year after the surgery, and it’s not uncommon for pitchers to miss two full seasons.
Luckily, we have Shohei Ohtani, who pitches AND DH’s to give us a glimpse at what’s in store for Harper.
Ohtani also underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2018 and was able to start hitting in games in May 2019. So there’s a chance Harper returns to the Phillies in the same DH role before getting a shot at the outfield again.
However, Ohtani did not pitch until 2020 — yet he only made two starts and pitched 1.2 innings. He suffered from a flexor strain and was shut down from pitching for the rest of that season.
Harper was named the 2022 National League Championship Series MVP — he went 8-for-20 (.400) with two homers, including the pennant-winning dingier, and five extra-base hits.
The Phillies have others who can produce offensively, including Kyle Schwarber, if Harper must sit out. But there’s no doubt his presence would be missed in the lineup if his surgery delays his start to the season.