Bryce Harper may bypass minor-league rehab assignment in return to Phillies

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There’s still no publicly available timetable for when Philadelphia Phillies superstar Bryce Harper will return from Tommy John surgery, but more and more details are emerging about what his return will look like.

After a report that Harper will try to play first base to help the team fill the absence of Rhys Hoskins, who tore his ACL in spring training, Phillies manager Rob Thomson told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Saturday that Harper could return without even taking a minor league rehab assignment.

Harper has not played in a competitive baseball game since the 2022 World Series after undergoing surgery to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow last November. Harper initially suffered the injury in May 2022, but remained with the Phillies throughout the season as the designated hitter as the injury did not hinder his ability to hit.

The 30-year-old superstar led Philadelphia on an improbable run to the NL pennant and won the 2022 NL Championship Series MVP after his spectacular home run in the final game.

Thomson admitted to reporters earlier this week that Harper could likely see game action as a hitter at this point, but has yet to be cleared to slide and eventually pitch again. Additional motivation for Harper to try to play first base is that his pitching ability isn’t as important at that position as it is in Harper’s natural position of right field, allowing him to potentially return sooner .

[Bryce Harper takes on-field batting practice for first time since surgery]

It’s unusual for players coming off major surgery like Tommy John not to accept a rehab assignment before rejoining their big league clubs. But Harper is considered one of the most skilled hitters of his generation, and Thomson noted that advances in virtual reality technology that many teams now use to improve batting practice could help Harper mimic MLB opponents while work back

Harper, a two-time National League MVP, is in the fifth year of a 13-year, $330 million contract he signed with the Phillies just before the 2019 season.

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