Bryce Harper 'a little bit ahead' of schedule in Tommy John surgery rehab


CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Bryce Harper is about two weeks away from arriving at Phillies camp.

The rehabbing slugger will join his teammates around March 8 or 9, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Thursday morning. 

Harper is recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow performed on November 23, exactly three months ago. Initially, the Phillies said they expected Harper to be back around the All-Star break (July 11), though there is optimism and potential he could return a bit sooner.

He is on track in his rehab, perhaps even a bit ahead of schedule.

"I think he's a little bit ahead," manager Rob Thomson said, "but oftentimes, you say that about a player and all the sudden they have a setback. So just knocking on wood and making sure we're careful with how we keep progressing him."

Harper is now able to take dry (practice) swings. The next steps would be tee work, soft toss, then batting practice, then facing velocity, then facing live pitchers. Many steps to go. But promising early news.

"He's doing very well in his progress, he texted me back and forth yesterday," Dombrowski said. "Doctors are happy with where he is. He's doing great from a recovery perspective."

The Phillies went 36-27 last season in games Harper missed. He entered the final month hitting .323/.395/.589 before slumping in September and picking back up during the Phillies' playoff run, when he hit .349 with six homers and seven doubles in 71 plate appearances.

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