Bryce Harper was responsible for some of the biggest moments during the Philadelphia Phillies pennant-winning 2022 season.
But based on a number of confusing misdirections coming out of the Phillies front office, it’s unclear how much he’ll contribute next year.
Team President Dave Dombrowski announced Wednesday that Harper would be having surgery on his ulnar collateral ligament, or UCL.
This isn’t surprising given Harper tore his ligament earlier in 2022.
UCL injuries almost always mean a player is undergoing the infamous Tommy John surgery. While not as devastating to a hitter as it is to a pitcher, it’s still a lengthy recovery.
Many hitters have also taken a significant amount of time to recover past performance after the procedure.
Corey Seager and Max Muncy are just a few examples of hitters who took time to return to full strength.
But what’s unusual about Harper’s situation is that the Phillies are refusing to say whether or not it actually is Tommy John.
Dombrowski essentially punted, saying he had no indication of what the surgery would be:
“We have no prognosis, really, until he goes into the elbow and takes a look at it,” Dombrowski said. “The anticipation is something will happen that I think will slow him down for the season, but we’ll know more next week.”
Uncertain 2023 for Bryce Harper
What exactly does “slow him down for the season” mean?
The Phillies aren’t saying.
Harper has a history of returning from injuries and battling back quickly, despite expectations.
But elbow surgeries are extraordinarily difficult and involve lengthy recoveries.
While there’s still several months before opening day, a 6-9 month delay would force him to miss a big chunk of 2023.
Not to mention the potential loss in production on his return.
The Phillies surprised the baseball world when they made the World Series. That undoubtedly would not have happened without Harper.
While they might not lose him for all of 2023, even dropping a few extra games without him could keep them out of the postseason.
The offseason just started, and already this is one of the more intriguing subplots of the winter.