How long will surgery keep Bryce Harper out of Phillies roster in 2023?

How long will surgery keep Bryce Harper out of Phillies roster in 2023?

The Phillies have learned to survive without Bryce Harper in 2022. They will put those lessons into practice again in 2023.

Harper, the team announced, will undergo surgery to repair the injured ulna collateral ligament in his right elbow next Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper was examined by ElAttrache on Monday and an MRI confirmed that surgery would be needed to repair the tear in his UCL.

The exact nature of the operation will not be determined until ElAttrache sees the inside of Harper’s elbow in real time. Depending on the extent of the injury, Harper will either undergo a full reconstruction of the ligament – Tommy John surgery – or a less extensive operation known as an internal splint procedure.

Either way, Harper will likely miss at least the first month of next season.

“With the operation and the anticipation that something is going to happen, I think it will slow him down for the season, but we will know more next week,” Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Wednesday. .

Harper injured his elbow throwing into right field on April 11. Although he was injured and unable to pitch, he was able to stay on the Phillies’ roster as a designated hitter.

Tommy John surgery usually keeps pitchers out for at least a year. Harper, obviously, isn’t a pitcher, so his recovery from Tommy John surgery might be quicker than that. Even if he’s not ready to pitch in the outfield, he could remain the team’s DH in 2023. The question remains: when would he be ready for this role? While there’s no definitive answer because everyone heals differently, there is this possible pattern: Los Angeles Angels star pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani had Tommy John surgery immediately after the 2018 season and was back as his team’s DH in just over seven months. For Harper, seven months after the operation would be the end of June.

If ElAttrache determines Harper is a candidate for the lesser internal corset procedure, recovery would be faster, four to six months by some estimates. Rhys Hoskins underwent the procedure to repair a UCL tear in his left elbow in early October 2020 and completed full spring training in 2021.

Hoskins has had a full offseason to recover from his surgery. Harper doesn’t have that luxury, for good reason. The Phillies played through November as they entered the World Series for the first time since 2009. If Harper’s injury can be repaired with the internal brace procedure, a four-to-six-month recovery window would take him in the regular season and he will likely return as an ordinary hitter while he builds up his pitching strength.

Either way, the Phillies won’t rush Harper’s return. The 30-year-old two-time National League MVP is a huge investment with nine years remaining on the 13-year, $330 million contract he signed in March 2019. The team wants him 100% when he will be ready.

The Phils have experience playing without Harper. While he played through the elbow injury in 2022, he was unable to play through the broken left thumb he suffered when he was hit by a pitch on June 25. Harper missed two months with the injury and the Phillies went 32-20 without him to cement their status as a contending club.

“You never want to lose Bryce,” manager Rob Thomson said Wednesday. “He’s one of the best hitters in baseball, if not the best. We had a lot of time without him last year and it gave other guys an opportunity to step up and they did. . So while we will miss him and look forward to getting him back, we will be looking for the same.”

With much of their off-season attention focused on extending the lineup with a bat – likely someone from the garish free-agent shortstop class that includes Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson – and adding to the pitching staff, both in the rotation and the bullpen, the Phils could try to fill the void created by the loss of Harper from the inside, much like they have made in 2022. Darick Hall came from the minors and provided nine left-handed home runs after Harper went down. Outfielders Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber, receiver JT Realmuto and first baseman Hoskins could all be candidates for occasional reps at DH while Harper recovers. If Hoskins were to replace at DH, the Phils could use Alec Bohm at the start and play Edmundo Sosa at third, improving their interior defense. It hinges on the Phils signing a shortstop and Sosa not having to play there full-time.

Dombrowski said he won’t know what impact Harper’s surgery will have on the team’s offseason plans until he receives a full diagnosis from ElAttrache and the medical team this week. next.

“We have meetings now,” Dombrowski said. “We cover every topic we can think of – clubs, possible free agent signings, trades – all of it. In the back of our minds there will be discussions about, ‘What is it? we do if?’ Which might be nothing if we’re in a situation where we see him come back and do DH for part of the season We have other people who can DH so we have to factor that into the picture overall of what we’re going to do.”

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