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Report: Bryce Harper Nearing Rehab Assignment; May Return to Phillies Around Sept. 1

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 17, 2022

Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Philadelphia Phillies superstar outfielder Bryce Harper is expected to begin his rehab assignment Tuesday, according to Fox Sports' Tom Verducci.

FOX Sports: MLB @MLBONFOX

Bryce Harper is expected to begin his Triple-A rehab assignment Tuesday.<br><br>Tom Verducci has more on when you can expect to see him back in the <a href="https://twitter.com/Phillies?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Phillies</a> lineup: <a href="https://t.co/1UlMezxs0B">pic.twitter.com/1UlMezxs0B</a>

The Phillies are reportedly targeting a Sept. 1 return date for Harper to the everyday lineup.

The Phillies have been without the defending National League MVP since June 25, when a Blake Snell pitch that went up and in left him with a broken left thumb. Harper, in an effort to move his head and face away from the pitch, instead was struck in the hand.

"I kind of wish it hit me in the face," he told reporters at the time. "I don't break bones in my face. I think I can take 98 (mph) to the face, but not 97 to the thumb. Yeah, I was kind of in protection mode a little bit trying to get my hand up there and not let it hit me again. It's just a bummer. I am really bummed out."

The 29-year-old was in the midst of an excellent season, hitting .318 with 15 homers, 48 RBI, 49 runs and a .985 OPS, and it looked as though it might be a death knell for Philly's postseason hopes.

Instead, the team has rallied, going 27-17 since the injury.

Harper, who took batting practice Monday for the first time since his injury, will likely return as a designated hitter while he continues to deal with a torn ligament in his right elbow.

But simply getting his bat back in the lineup could be huge for an organization that hasn't reached the playoffs since the 2011 season. In his four seasons with the Phillies, Harper has slashed .287/.400/.563, living up to the 13-year, $330 million contract he signed back in 2019.

His pending return is more good news for the Phils, as slugger Kyle Schwarber is expected to make his return Friday after missing a week with a right calf strain. That will be bigโ€”Schwarber leads the NL with 34 homers, and in his absence, the Phillies have been shut out three times in six games.

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