Harper’s injury is more serious than expected, but he continues to swing

The Phillies are learning more about the elbow injury that has plagued Bryce Harper for a month – and the news isn’t necessarily good.

Harper has a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in her right elbow, the team confirmed Thursday night. He will not shed for a month and will be treated on Sunday with an injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP). The procedure will keep Harper out of lineup when the Phils close out a series in Los Angeles on Sunday and likely Tuesday when the club returns home to host the San Diego Padres.

Harper will be able to continue serving as the Phillies’ designated hitter as his recovery continues. He first injured his elbow throwing into right field on April 11. He hasn’t played in right field since April 16, but has been in the roster as a DH for 23 straight games, including Thursday night in Los Angeles.

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Harper was initially diagnosed with mild tension in the flexor mass, the area where the forearm meets the elbow. He periodically tested the elbow with a few light throws but continued to experience discomfort. The team ordered further tests last week and they confirmed a small tear in the UCL. Harper was examined Thursday in Los Angeles by orthopedic surgeon Neal ElAttrache.

UCL tears can be scary. They can lead to Tommy John surgery and over a year of rehabilitation. Some small UCL tears can heal without surgery. That’s what the Phillies are hoping for. The Phils will find out more when Harper launches a free throwing schedule in a month.

Some UCL tears can be repaired with surgery which requires much less recovery time than Tommy John surgery. Rhys Hoskins underwent the surgery, called an internal brace procedure, after the 2020 season and was fully recovered on opening day 2021.

Phillies general manager Sam Fuld spoke with Scott Franzke on Thursday night’s pregame radio show and expressed optimism that Harper is heading in the right direction.

“In relative terms, this is good news,” Fuld said. “There is a plan in place and confidence surrounds that plan. The result could certainly have been worse.

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“I know Bryce will be happy to have a plan that we’re all aligned with and have some clarity on. I think it’s helpful for the players, whenever you get hurt, just to know what looks like the short term everyday.

“There is a fair amount of optimism that PRP can help and we are optimistic that things will go well in the medium to long term, and in the meantime we will continue to work Bryce out of the DH spot. “

The injury only affects Harper’s ability to throw the ball. His swing is perfect. In fact, he homered in the first inning of Thursday night’s game against the Dodgers.

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