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Phillies manager Joe Girardi has announced that Bryce Harper won’t be throwing the baseball for at least four weeks.
Philadelphia Phillies superstar Bryce Harper has a small tear in his UCL and will be strictly available as a designated hitter for the foreseeable future, Alex Coffey of the Philly Inquirer tweets.
Harper has been functioning strictly as a DH since mid-April and is still able to swing the bat but will continue to be unable to play the outfield for at least another month. This injury is expected to keep him fully out of the lineup for the next few days.
Harper’s UCL tear is an injury that is more common in pitchers than it is in position players. When a pitcher has a UCL tear, Tommy John surgery is a common fix. The Phillies anticipate keeping Harper in the lineup as much as possible regardless of whether surgery looms in the near future or not.
Phillies: Short-term solutions for Bryce Harper injury
The Philadelphia Phillies, proud owners of one of — if not the — worst defensive outfield in the major leagues will now be without one of the only decent defenders they have on the grass.
With Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos both corner outfielders who are better suited for designated hitter, they will be forced to play the field with Harper filling out the DH spot on the everyday lineups. Odubel Herrera will remain in center field, splitting time with Roman Quinn.
The Phils have a large list of outfield-capable players at their Triple-A Lehigh Valley squad including utilityman Yairo Munoz and MLB veterans Justin Williams, John Andreoli, Jorge Bonifacio and Dustin Peterson as well as 2021 standout Matt Vierling.
Vierling, 26, is the most obvious candidate to receive a call-up, in part because of the struggles out of the gate for the other names but also because he looked great in a 34-game cameo last year for the Phillies.
The smartest move to be made by the Phillies would likely be to promote Vierling to the big league squad. This would likely result in Roman Quinn, who is out of minor league options, being designated for assignment once again.
Vierling is capable of playing the infield corners as well as all three outfield spots. He swings the bat from the right side of the plate and has double-digit home run and stolen base potential while being a lock to post a batting average anywhere between .280 and .300 (he hit .324 for the Phillies down the stretch last season). His bat and positional versatility would offer more of an immediate help to the lineup than a Roman Quinn would.