November 29, 2022

Bryce Harper to undergo UCL surgery

Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Bryce Harper (3) hits a 2-run home run over Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning during Game 3 of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, in Philadelphia. (Photo by Karen Warren/houstonchronicle.com)

Bryce Harper will have surgery to repair the injured ulna collateral ligament in his right elbow. The surgery will be performed next Wednesday in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski confirmed Wednesday morning.

Harper could have full-on ligament reconstruction (better known as Tommy John surgery) or a lesser procedure known as an internal brace. The extent of the surgery will not be known until the procedure actually happens and ElAttrache gets a real-time look at the injury. 

Recovery times are different for both. If ElAttrache needs to perform Tommy John surgery, Harper would likely miss at least the first two months of the season but would likely be able to return as a designated hitter before the mid-way point of the season even if he can not to throw.

Harper endured the injury in April and it halted him from throwing and playing right field, but he was able to continue as the Phillies’ designated hitter.

This sounds bad, but it may not be that bad.

Of course it is less than ideal to miss an MVP-caliber player for almost half the season, but the Phillies were able to handle an extended absence by Harper this past season.

The larger problem part is that Harper was clearly not at full strength upon his return and didn’t really start hitting well until the playoffs. The Phillies’ chances of returning to the playoffs will basically be gone if Harper misses the first three months of the season and needs another month on top of that to get back to his usual form.

We just have to hope for the best.

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