While the league, and the Philadelphia Phillies, opened their camp in mid-February, they did it without their best player.
Bryce Harper, recovering from Tommy John surgery performed after the World Series, reported to camp on Thursday, almost a month after his teammates.
The reason is simple: he was very limited regarding things he could do and exercises at the moment of opening camp, so there was no point for him being there in the middle of February.
Now that he has progressed to hitting off a tee, that’s something he can do with his teammates in camp.
He will be stuck in the “hitting off a tee” phase for at least a few days.
While Tommy John surgery is not the same for hitters as for pitchers – recovery is faster for the former – it’s still nothing to sneeze at, and there are boxes to clear.
For example, the slugger spent a few days back at home taking “dry swings”.
The 2015 and 2021 National League MVP is targeting a late June or early July return to the Phillies lineup.
Oh, hey there pic.twitter.com/LXYM6itHwV
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) March 9, 2023
They certainly need him at his best, because the NL has gotten extremely competitive these days.
Just in the Phillies’ division, there are three bona fide World Series contenders: themselves, the New York Mets, and the Atlanta Braves.
Getting Harper back for the stretch run would be huge for the Phils, but getting to that point still in contention without their best hitter will be the real challenge.
They do have other elite players to help themselves while Harper is away.NEXT: Picture Shows J.T. Realmuto Looking Like Captain America