Phillies slugger Harper unlikely to return to outfield this season

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Phillies slugger Bryce Harper likely won’t play the outfield again this season.

The two-time NL MVP served strictly as Philadelphia’s designated hitter for most of last season after injuring his right throwing elbow on an outfield throw in April 2022. After offseason Tommy John surgery, Harper returned to his DH role on May 2 before debuting at first base for the first time in his career on July 21.

Since then, manager Rob Thomson has been alternating Harper between first base and DH and that is likely the plan for the remainder of the season.

“I wouldn’t think so, not at this point, unless something changes,” Thomson said on Saturday, when asked if Harper would return to the outfield this season.

Seven-time All-Star Harper has played well at first base, making just one error in nine games over 80 innings. He made a spectacular catch, diving into the camera well, in his debut at Cleveland.

“He’s played extremely well,” Thomson said. “Him handling situations, him fielding ground balls, his work around the base, I’m really happy and, frankly, surprised a little bit.”

After playing first base in Friday night’s series opener against the Kansas City Royals, Harper returned to DH for Saturday night’s game against the Royals. Harper is in the fifth season of a 13-year, $330 million deal he signed prior to the 2019 season. He is batting .290 with five home runs and 32 RBIs in 77 games.


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