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Bryce Harper could return to Phillies lineup Tuesday at Dodgers

MLB: Spring Training-Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies

Mar 14, 2023; Clearwater, Florida, USA; Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Bryce Harper (3) looks on from the dugout against the Atlanta Braves in the fifth inning during spring training at BayCare Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON -- Star slugger Bryce Harper could return to the Philadelphia Phillies lineup as early as Tuesday if an exam on his surgically repaired right elbow goes well.

On Monday in Los Angeles, the two-time National League MVP will visit Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed Tommy John surgery on Harper last November.

“It’ll be tomorrow and then we’ll see what happens,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “I don’t think, just talking with Harp, I don’t think he’ll play tomorrow even if he’s cleared. But hopefully, he gets cleared.”

The Phillies open at three-game series at the Los Angeles Dodgers.

If Harper returns, it would be significantly ahead of the timetable offered soon after he had surgery on Nov. 23. He was initially expected to return around the All-Star break.

Harper, who has been facing pitching for a few weeks, will be the team’s designated hitter when he gets back.

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