Bryce Harper Phillies won’t start season in Illinois 60 Days, Dave Dombrowski says: What’s next?

The Phillies will not place player Bryce Harper on the 60-day injured list to start the regular season while he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery, Philadelphia’s president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The current plan doesn’t preclude the team from putting Harper on IL 60 days later, Dombrowski said. He added that Harper’s schedule had not changed, but that the club was not prepared to officially rule out a return for the first 60 days of the season.
  • “I don’t specify any dates,” Dombrowski said, “I’m just keeping that option open rather than closing an option.”
  • Harper, 30, had the surgery last November and was cleared to do dry twists in February. Harper said earlier this month that he’s not sure if he’ll be playing right field this season.

the athleteInstant Analysis:

What do I do from Harper’s case

Harper’s progression has encouraged the Phillies this spring, but the schedule for his return hasn’t necessarily changed. In Dombrowski’s view, there is no need to close the door on returning within the first 60 days of the season unless the Phillies are forced to go down that route. The injured player is not counted in the 60-day list of the 40-man squad.

If the Phillies had several players they needed to add at the end of the spring, they might have moved Harper to the 60-day injured list. But they may only have one more player, Noah Song, to add to their 40-man roster. They can remove someone else instead of committing to at least 60 days before Harper returns.

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But, by doing so, are the Phillies saying Harper is likely to return before June 1st?

“I just answered the question,” said Dombrowski. “Because if I had no hope, I would put it down in 60 days.” – gelb

What then?

Harper’s next move is to hit soft swings on consecutive days. After that, he would progress to normal batting practice. He still has several rods to remove while he continues his rehabilitation. Harper will travel with the team when the season begins and will do recovery work at Citizens Bank Park instead of Florida.

“There are no setbacks,” Dombrowski said. “It’s very positive, yeah, sure.”

If the Phillies need a 40-man roster sometime in April or May, they can decide to transfer Harper to IL for 60 days and it won’t affect his potential return in early June. – gelb

background story

This past April, on a routine right field pitching, Harper hit his elbow in a manner similar to what a pitcher might do. The Phillies were forced to remove Harper from regular duty in right field and use him instead as their daily designated hitter.

To make matters worse, Harper suffered a broken left thumb when he was hit in the hand by pitching Blake Snell in late June, forcing him to be out for two months. After his return, Harper hit just . 227 with three homers over 35 games. In a playoff chase, the Phillies were unable to ease Harper’s running back and needed him right away.

Overall, he played in only 99 games, missing all of July and most of August, but Harper still hit at the All-Star level and had a legendary run in the postseason. 349 with a 1.160 OPS in leading the Phillies to the World Series. He was the MVP of the playoffs, with six home runs, seven doubles, and a 13-run home run.

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(Photo: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

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