Phillies injury news: Bryce Harper taking next step toward return to field

DENVER — Bryce Harper has already returned to the Philadelphia Phillies batting order as the team’s designated hitter. Now the question becomes when can Harper once again take his spot in the field for Philadelphia?

That timeline will take another movement forward on Sunday when Harper begins to throw 90 feet, according to Phillies manager Rob Thomson. Harper is currently throwing at 75 feet, so this will mark another progression in Harper’s return from Tommy John surgery.

Another step forward from injury for Bryce Harper of Philadelphia Phillies

Thomson told reporters that Harper was still taking ground balls and “doing well with it” as he works toward returning to the lineup at first base. Thomson, however, cautioned that there were still steps Harper needed to make in order to play in the field and the Phillies to be comfortable with his health.

“I think by the time we get there, I think he’s going to be ready to go,” Thomson said.

While Harper could slide into a role at first base, Thomson believes that Harper could also eventually return to a role in right field. When and if that happens, Thomson says that the Phillies could use Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos in left field and rotate Harper and Castellanos between right field and designated hitter while Schwarber and Castellanos could rotate between left and designated hitter.

Harper, of course, could also be used in a first base role. Alec Bohm has seen the most time at first base so far this season, spending portions of 31 games there in the absence of Rhys Hoskins, who was injured and lost for 2023 in spring training with a torn ACL.

In whatever role he plays, don’t expect Harper to let up on the intensity as he let reporters know after Friday’s 6-3 victory that pulled the Phillies to 19-19 on the season.

“I’m not going to be reckless of course, but I don’t want to go out there and be hesitant because when you’re hesitant and you’re playing that way, that’s where you get hurt and ‘Oh man, I shouldn’t be doing that,’” Harper said as part of these quotes. “Go out there and play the game that I know how and pick my spots and be smart in those opportunities.”