PHILADELPHIA — If you paid attention at all to Bryce Harper’s injured right elbow the past few weeks, then you know the platelet-rich plasma injection he received Sunday in Los Angeles is not a magical cure.
He remains more than a month away from playing right field again.
“We’re just not there yet,” Harper said on Tuesday before the Phillies’ series opener against the Padres at Citizens Bank Park.
Harper was not the starting designated hitter on Tuesday because he still felt soreness from the shot, which was anticipated. He is not certain he will be in the lineup on Wednesday, either.
“Plan on either tomorrow or hopefully Thursday being in there,” Harper said. “I want to be out there. I want to be helping my team, especially against a great team in San Diego. But I think that was the perfect day to get it on Sunday and have that Monday off-day and, hopefully, just miss two or three games. I think that was the perfect time.”
Harper and the Phillies hope the PRP injection helps heal the small tear in his right ulnar collateral ligament. When Harper was diagnosed with the tear on Thursday in Los Angeles, the Phillies said that Harper would not throw a baseball for four weeks. Even then, it will be the beginning of a throwing program.
In other words, Harper will not pick up a baseball on June 17 and start firing baseballs from right field to home plate.
But Harper said the plan is to play right field again in 2022.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “But we’re not going to rush getting into that. I’m going to listen to what [orthopedist Neal] ElAttrache has to say and what he said. I’m going to take my time with it, like he told me and really take advantage of the PRP shot.”
In the meantime, Harper will DH. He entered Tuesday batting .305 with nine home runs, 27 RBIs and a .995 OPS this season. He leads the Major Leagues with 14 doubles, 24 extra-base hits and 83 total bases. He leads the NL in homers and slugging percentage (.634).
“[ElAttrache] has no desire to tell me that I can’t hit,” Harper said. “He kind of went through the same thing with [Angels star Shohei] Ohtani being able to DH and play through kind of what [his elbow injury was].
“I’m very lucky that it’s not my left arm. That’s the way that Rhys [Hoskins] kind of went through with his right arm [in 2020], and his top hand going through the ball. I don’t feel it when I hit. So I’m very lucky with that. As of right now, we’re just going to stick with DH’ing and see how I feel each day.”