Phillies superstar and reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper will be activated from the injured list Friday against the Pirates, manager Rob Thomson told reporters Thursday (via NBC Philadelphia). This marks a very fast return from a fractured thumb that required surgery. Harper only played two games on his minor-league rehab assignment that was initially slated to go through Saturdady. Given how he hit the ball, he certainly seems ready to return to the majors.
On Tuesday, for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Harper went 2 for 3 with two walks, two home runs and four RBI. Wednesday, he was 3 for 5 with two doubles and two RBI. Oh, and he walked it off:
While the IronPigs surely would have loved to see Harper hang around as long as possible, his .625/.700/1.625 line through two games suggests his thumb is 100 percent. The Phillies and Harper seem to agree with that sentiment, as he's returned to the team Thursday to rest up before getting back into the grind Friday.
It was June 25 when Harper took an errant 97-mph Blake Snell fastball off his left thumb, fracturing it. He needed surgery to repair it and the Phillies eventually placed him on the 60-day disabled list. His season was in jeopardy, though most agreed he'd be able to return sometime in September. Maybe the middle of the month. A few weeks ago, then, the news update was that Harper's thumb was healing quickly and Sept. 1 was the target.
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That was before Harper's highly productive rehab assignment. Remember, a lot of times these rehab stints start out with players only taking a few at-bats and playing the first 3-5 innings. He's already played two full games and has looked like himself. It seems that was enough for the Phillies' front office to be convinced he's ready for a return.
Harper was on the 60-day injured list and the 60th day was Wednesday.
Harper will remain at designated hitter for the Phillies, as he has an injured elbow and can't throw. In 64 games at the big-league level this season, he's hitting .318/.385/.599 (171 OPS+) with 21 doubles, a triple, 15 homers, 48 RBI, 49 runs, nine steals and 2.6 WAR.
The Phillies have actually played well since his injury. They are 31-20 after he went down, putting them 69-55 on the season and in the second NL wild card slot. They are two games ahead of the Padres for the second spot and 3 1/2 clear of the Brewers, meaning they still have a fight just to make the playoffs.
Getting Harper back is a big boost prior to the last month. They'll have 37 games left on the schedule after his return.