Phillies’ Bryce Harper expected to return Tuesday vs. Dodgers if cleared

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HOUSTON — Bryce Harper has defied every conventional timeline while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and now the process has reached its tipping point. Harper will see a doctor Monday morning in Los Angeles. If he is cleared, he is expected to return to the Phillies’ lineup as the designated hitter Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium — a mere 160 days following the surgery to reconstruct his right elbow.

It is a stunning development for the Phillies, who were anticipating months without Harper. But, as Harper’s body responded throughout the process, optimism grew. He is returning only as a hitter, and that has expedited things. The current plan all hinges on his appointment with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the orthopedist who performed the Tommy John surgery on Harper on Nov. 23. The Phillies have decided that even if Harper is cleared Monday, he will not be activated Monday night.

But it’s close.

“He’s pretty geeked up about getting out there and playing,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “He’s itching.”

The club had originally established a timetable for Harper to return as a DH sometime “by the All-Star break.” If he is cleared Monday and returns Tuesday, he’ll have beaten that projection by more than two months.

“Amazing,” Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “He’s absolutely amazing. He’s a great athlete. He works hard. He’s focused. He wants to get back. I mean, it’s amazing what he’s accomplished. We have that next step (with the doctor to clear him). But the progress he’s made is phenomenal.”



Inside Bryce Harper’s at-bat for the ages: Phillies star rewatches, relives the swing of his life

Required reading

  • Harper’s return: Kevin Long discusses the plan, why no rehab games
  • Harper’s rapid recovery, return to Phillies might defy precedent
  • A-ball pitcher on what it’s like to face Harper in live BP

    (Photo: Matt Rourke / Associated Press)

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