Harper set for thumb surgery, Phils hopes he’ll play this year

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will undergo surgery Wednesday to repair his broken left thumb and the team hopes the 2021 NL MVP can play again this season.

Manager Rob Thomson did not offer a timeline for Harper’s return.

“It’s tough, but it’s probably the best thing for him. So what’s best for him is best for me,” Thomson said Tuesday. “If he’s able to come back, which we expect, then that’s fine under the circumstances.”

Harper’s thumb was broken when he was hit by a 97mph pitch from San Diego Padres southpaw Blake Snell on Saturday night.

The 29-year-old Harper is hitting .318 with 15 home runs, 48 ​​RBIs and a .985 OPS, and recently helped the Phillies return to playoff contention.

The Phillies opened a three-game series Tuesday night against Atlanta.

“I have to be positive for the guys here. I know they will take over. I’m just really disappointed for the organization, the guys, the city of Philadelphia, the fans. I like running there and playing every day. Definitely disappointed,” Harper said after the injury.

Harper checked his momentum as the pitch rose inside and high towards his shoulder before hitting him outside with a left hand in the fourth inning. He fell to the ground in pain as he held his hand while kneeling for several minutes.

“I think that’s probably the best for him even if it’s a broken bone and that’s bad; he’s not happy about that, not being able to play because he wants to play,” Thomson said. “But he’s looking forward to coming back (towards) the end of the year.”

The Atlanta Braves faced a similar situation last season when Ronald Acuña Jr. tore his ACL in his right knee on July 10 and was lost for the season. Acuña was batting .283 with 24 home runs and 52 RBIs in 82 games and was an MVP candidate when he went down.

But the Braves won the World Series without their star outfielder.

“What I see is when someone goes down like that, it’s an opportunity for someone else to step in and do something really good,” the Braves manager said, Brian Snitker before the game in Philadelphia. “It never fazed our guys all year. These guys keep playing, they keep preparing, they keep doing what they do.

Snitker expects something similar from the Phillies.

“There’s still a lot of thunder in this formation,” he said.

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