Phillies cutting back on Bryce Harper’s throwing program; offseason Tommy John surgery a possibility

Bryce Harper

Reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper has been on the shelf due to June surgery to repair a broken left thumb and had also been playing through a torn UCL in his right elbow. Now, Harper is backing off his throwing program due to ongoing stiffness in his right elbow, Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson told reporters this week, via Scott Lauber of the Philly Inquirer. Harper played through that ligament tear for months before an errant Blake Snell heater broke his left thumb and forced him to the injured list, but he’d been limited to DH work because the elbow tear prevented him from throwing.

Offseason Tommy John surgery is a possibility, but there’d been some hope that after receiving an injection in May, Harper might yet be able to gut it out and play right field upon returning. For now, the Phils are just going to “concentrate on the hitting” aspect of Harper’s recovery, per Thomson, who added that there’s “no doubt in my mind” Harper will be back in the lineup this season. He still needs to regain some flexibility in his thumb, from which doctors removed three pins back on Aug. 1. Given the lengthy layoff, Harper will also need a minor league rehab assignment of some length.

More on other injury situations from around baseball…

  • In another concern for the Phillies, Kyle Schwarber left Thursday’s game with what Thomson told reporters was a mild right calf strain, via The Athletic’s Matt Gelb. Schwarber will undergo tests but is currently considered day-to-day. With an NL-leading 34 home runs, Schwarber has provided his typical power in his first season in Philadelphia, and the Phillies can only hope that the calf strain won’t require a lengthy IL stint.
    Outfielder Yonathan Daza suffered what the Rockies described as a left shoulder sprain in Thursday’s game against the Cardinals. Daza suffered the injury while making a running catch to rob Nolan Arenado of a hit in the first inning, as the momentum took Daza to the ground and he immediately grabbed at his shoulder. Now in his third MLB season, Daza has hit .299/.345/.367 over 307 plate appearances with Colorado in 2022, getting the majority of playing time as the Rockies’ starting center fielder.
  • Will Harris has yet to pitch in 2022, and the veteran reliever has now suffered another setback in the form of a groin injury. (The Washington Post’s Andrew Golden was among those to report the news.) Harris underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in June 2021 and then a related pectoral surgery last March, but the righty seemed to be on the way back when he started a minor league rehab assignment in late July. However, Harris hasn’t pitched with the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate since August 2, bringing fresh doubt as to whether or not he can return to a big league mound before the season is over. It is possible Harris has already thrown his last pitch as a National, since his three-year, $24M deal with the team is up at season’s end.
  • Twins pitching prospect Matt Canterino will undergo Tommy John surgery this month, as initially reported by SKOR North’s Darren Wolfson. Canterino has been plagued by elbow injuries for the better part of two seasons, limiting the right-hander to just 60 total innings since the start of the 2021 minor league season. As Twins assistant GM Jeremy Zoll told The St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Betsy Helfand and other reporters, “It felt like we didn’t have any more stones to turn over, and Matt was feeling like surgery was the right call for him to try and get him back up and running from there.” Canterino was the Twins’ second-round pick in the 2019 draft, and he has an impressive 1.48 ERA and 39.16% strikeout rate over 85 career innings in pro ball. As per the normal timeline for TJ recovery, Canterino won’t be back until August 2023 at the absolute earliest, and it is quite possible he’ll be sidelined until spring training 2024.

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