Phillies slugger Bryce Harper likely to stay as designated hitter when he returns

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 25: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies is checked on team trainers after being hit on the thumb by a pitch during the game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on Saturday, June 25, 2

Phillies slugger Bryce Harper is likely to continue as a designated hitter and might not play the outfield when he returns from a broken left thumb that has sidelined him since late June.

Harper had been periodically doing a throwing program with the hopes of returning to the outfield this season, but interim manager Rob Thomson said on Tuesday that Harper has cut back on that regimen.

"We’re just going to back off a minute and concentrate on the hitting," Thomson said before Philadelphia faced Miami.

On Aug. 1, Harper had the three pins removed from his left thumb and began hitting off a tee. He said last week that he hopes to return in September, though he didn’t provide a firm timetable.

The 2021 NL MVP has been out of the lineup since June 25 when a 97 mph fastball from San Diego left-hander Blake Snell hit him on the left thumb. He had been serving as the DH since April after first injuring his right elbow on April 11.


Harper tried to continue playing the outfield, but had been used exclusively as a DH since his last appearance in the field on April 16.

The 29-year-old Harper, who signed a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies in 2019, is batting .318 with 21 doubles, 15 homers and 48 RBIs in 64 games.

The Phillies, who entered Tuesday coming off a four-game sweep of Washington and having won 10 of their last 11, are 22-13 since Harper last played. The surge has put them back into playoff contention.