May 18, 2022

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Bryce Harper has partial UCL tear, will play DH, sports doctor says

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Philadelphia Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper will now become the designated hitter for the foreseeable future as he has a partial ulnar collateral ligament tear.

It took a month for the diagnosis and announcement, as Harper originally injured his elbow back on April 11th on this throw home:


Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper (3) gestures from first base after hitting an RBI single during the third inning of the first game of a double header against the New York Mets, Sunday, May 8, 2022, in Philadelphia.

Initial word for the injury was a “flexor strain,” which has often become code for “the team fears UCL damage but doesn’t want to rile up the fan base.” Unfortunately, the partial UCL tear in his throwing elbow has now been confirmed.

If Harper were a pitcher, the shutdown would be extensive and surgery would be on the table. However, Harper is normally a right fielder, and the Phillies can take advantage of the new permanent DH rule in the National League which will allow Harper to continue to play. The Atlanta Braves have already taken advantage of this rule with Ronald Acuna, Jr. coming off last year’s ACL tear.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper celebrates his solo home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Thursday, May 12, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

Harper has already been the DH for 22 games since the injury. Count on that to continue until at least the All-Star break, if not longer. He is getting a platelet-rich plasma injection to his right elbow to induce healing, and there are no plans for surgery yet. In the best case scenario, he might begin a throwing program a month from the injection, but that will be a slow ramp up.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, in Miami.
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)


Baseball purists may not like the new DH rule, but it does allow fans to see stars like Harper and Acuna still hit when not 100% healthy.