Bryce Harper just joined the Philadelphia Phillies for spring training earlier this week, but he’s already listed as day-to-day after taking a 96-mph fastball to his right ankle yesterday. On the plus side, CBS Sports reported that Phillies fans don’t need to worry about losing Harper for an extended period of time. The results of his x-rays were negative, which means that the painful injury doesn’t include any broken bones.
Phillies manager and former Detroit Tigers player Gabe Kapler announced that Harper is expected to be fully recovered by Opening Day. When asked about the situation, Bryce Harper told MLB.com that he’d “rather be healthy” than get Spring Training at-bats. He did admit that he needs to get some practice in the field and at the plate before the 2019 season begins. To that end, Harper said he’s willing to “go down to Minor League camp and play,” if that becomes a necessity.
It looks like Phillies fans can breathe easily this time, but Harper’s latest injury sparked fresh concerns about the outfielder’s ability to stay healthy. Granted, getting hit by a pitch isn’t Harper’s fault. It does add yet another medical issue to his long list of them, though, including the left knee surgery he had during the 2013 off-season, a left thumb injury in 2014, a 2017 left knee bone bruise, and a scary hit-by-pitch incident last season.
Bryce Harper’s history of injury woes made the 26-year-old’s recent 13-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies equally exciting and concerning for fans. Harper now boasts the largest guaranteed professional sports contract in North American history. Per MLB.com, he will receive $30 million of the $330 million deal this year, which includes $10 million for the 2019 season and a signing bonus of $20 million.
Due to the nature of baseball contracts, the Phillies will owe Bryce Harper the money even if he ends up sitting on the bench with an extended injury. Despite these concerns, the Phillies doggedly pursued Harper for more than three months.
When the deal finally became official, Phillies Manager Gabe Kapler found out from fans who were sitting behind the dugout. NBC Sports recently reported that one of those fans, Matt Vecere, died during the March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. Kapler posted a tribute to Vecere on Twitter.
Harper’s recovery process is certain to be closely monitored by Phillies fans. The team already had a nice lineup before he agreed to terms, but the addition of a healthy Bryce Harper would put the Phillies in a good position to compete for a spot in the 2019 World Series.