December 3, 2023

Bryce Harper puts on impressive show in first rehab start


Steven M. Falk/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP

Bryce Harper began his rehabilitation assignment in Leigh Valley Tuesday night with the IronPigs in Triple-A, and man was it impressive.

Harper hasn’t played live baseball since he broke his left thumb on June 25. He is expected to play in Lehigh Valley through Saturday and possibly return to the Philadelphia lineup on Monday when the Phils begin a series at Arizona.

Harper was the designated hitter and hit second in the lineup for the IronPigs for the start of a six-game series against the Gwinnett Stripers at Coca-Cola Park. He drilled the fifth pitch he saw from Atlanta Braves prospect Jared Shuster well over the right field wall in front of what was announced as a sellout crowd of 10,100 fans.

“I think any time you go out there and you’re able to put the bat on the ball and have good at-bats, see pitches, compete at a high level, it’s always good,” Harper said.

He walked against Shuster in his second at-bat to the boos of the crowd that wanted Harper to take another hack. Harper was then caught stealing third base.

He grounded out in his third plate appearance, walked again, and scored in the seventh to give Lehigh Valley the lead over Gwinnett 10-5.

His fifth and final plate appearance of the night came in the bottom of the eighth, where all he needed was one pitch. On that one pitch, he hit home run number two: an opposite-field bomb.

The Phillies’ broadcast crew could not even believe it. Being in person and seeing this live was unbelievable.

Lots of people bring up the question, why are the Phillies waiting until Monday to bring Harper back? The Phillies need him now, they may say.

“Tonight was great, right? But at the same time, I need the at-bats, I need to be able to see pitches, different guys, different angles, understanding how my body’s going to react, what my thumb’s going to be like,” Harper said.

When Harper returns, he will have to stay as the DH due to a small tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his throwing elbow.

Asked if he could play right field in September, Harper simply said, “no.”

“Bring him up. He doesn’t need more games,” second baseman Jean Segura said with a smile after Philadelphia’s win. “What is he doing down there? He’s ready. Hopefully, he comes back quick. If he hit two homers, bring him up.”

Harper’s first start in his rehab assignment was a huge success, and how hopefully he only improves.

Watch the vlog from that night here:

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