Bryce Harper will reportedly make quick decision regarding offseason UCL surgery
Bryce Harper, who was forced into the designated hitter position for the majority of the season with a torn UCL will reportedly make a decision in the coming week on whether or not to undergo offseason surgery.
Bryce Harper is expected to undergo an evaluation later in the week, which is expected to include an MRI that will help determine whether or not offseason surgery is the best route for his specific injury. The Phillies and Harper are hoping that an MRI will assist in determining whether or not his stint this season as the designated hitter assisted in the healing process.
If this week’s MRI and a visit to a specialist in fact reveal that the best course of action for Harper is surgery, then it is expected that his status for Opening Day 2023 will be put into serious doubt.
Bryce Harper originally revealed the injury during Spring Training and in May, he was officially diagnosed with a small tear in his UCL, the same ligament injury that leads so many pitchers to Tommy John Surgery. While offseason surgery would likely sideline him for the beginning of the season, it is unlikely that his injury would require the same lengthy rehab process that often causes pitchers to miss a full season of action or more.
If we are looking for comparisons to Bryce Harper’s UCL injury to help us determine just how long his rehab process may be, Corey Seager, Max Muncy, and Shohei Ohtani provide the most recent examples. Seager injured his UCL during the middle of the 2018 season and then missed the remainder of the year after undergoing surgery. He then made a full recovery that culminated in a monster free agent deal with the Texas Ranger last offseason.
Max Muncy suffered his injury at the end of the 2021 season and chose not to undergo surgery, opting instead for a more traditional rehab process. According to Muncy, 6 months after he began the rehab process he was still not at 100% and his statistics were subsequently down across the board for the Dodgers in 2022.
As for Shohei Ohtani, he underwent UCL surgery following the 2018 season and was back as the Angels designated hitter within 7 months. Long term, the surgery clearly worked for Ohtani who was the 2021 AL MVP and will likely finish 2nd behind Aaron Judge in 2022.
Whatever decision Harper ultimately makes, it will likely mean that he begins the season either on the IL or forced back into his position as the everyday designated hitter. With the Phillies lengthy postseason run, it also means that Harper has missed more than an entire month he would have otherwise spent in rehabilitation.
I’m certainly not complaining that the Phillies are National League Champions, but their success ultimately will likely bleed into the beginning of 2023.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Philadelphia Phillies