Bryce Harper Has ‘Small Tear’ In UCL; Wont Throw For 4 Weeks
The same elbow issue that has limited Bryce Harper to DH for most of this season, has been diagnosed as a ‘small tear’ in his UCL according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Alex Coffey.
Joe Girardi confirmed the report prior to the Phillies opening game of a four game series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. According to Girardi, Bryce Harper had another test performed last week that first showed the tear to his right ulnar collateral ligament. On Thursday that had him visit Neal ElAttrache, an orthopedic surgeon in the LA area, who further confirmed his injury status.
Harper will received a PRP injection on Sunday and will subsequently miss the game that same day and possibly Tuesday at home against the San Diego Padres. The Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy is a process by in which the patients blood is spun in a centrifuge collecting plasma which is then injected back into the injured tendon.
According to Girardi, Harper will not be allowed to throw the baseball for at least four weeks at which point he will hopefully begin a rehab throwing program. Until that time, Bryce Harper is expects to remain in the lineup and continue to DH.
The Phillies have previously referred to the injury as a ‘mild elbow sprain‘. An injury to the UCL has far greater implications as it is the same ligament pitchers have repaired so often in Tommy John surgery. Dr. ElAttache is actually the same doctor that performed the surgery on 2021 AL MVP Shohei Ohtani in October 2018. The next season Ohtani was obviously unable to pitch, although he still had a productive season at the plate slashing .286/.343/.505 with 18 HR and 62 RBI.
That’s a good sign for Harper, who I can’t imagine would be willing to miss a large part of the 2022 season unless he was no longer able to perform offensively.
Harper has served exclusively as the Phillies designated hitter since April 17th. It’s unclear whether the injury is the cause of his dip in production, but Harper has clearly not been the same at the plate this season. Harper has slashed .269/.326/.521 this season which is well below the .309/.429/.615 that propelled him to the NL MVP for award in 2021.
“I miss playing,” Harper said. “I really do. I miss being out there with my team and playing on the field. It’s been tough. I want to get back out there. I want to help this team on both sides of the ball. I miss playing right [field]. … That’s been a grind for me. Just worrying about hitting all day, instead of going out there and playing both sides of the ball.”
The injury has negatively affected more than just Harper this season. Without the open DH spot, the Phillies have been forced to play both Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber in the field more than they would have preferred. Both are below average as corner outfielders and have been a strain on the Phillies who rank 28th in overall defensive efficiency. Slotting Harper into the DH slot, also means that catcher JT Realmuto will likely be behind the plate more often, as the team attempts to keep his bat in the lineup.
Thank god fo the designated hitter.