New NL DH rule saves Bryce Harper from being sidelined for months

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After securing his second career MVP trophy in 2021, Bryce Harper is having another stellar season at the plate.

Thanks to the newly adopted designated hitter in the National League, he won't have to cut it short.

The Philadelphia Phillies slugger missed his third straight game on Wednesday after a platelet-rich-plasma injection on Sunday to treat a small tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The injury has bothered him most of the season and kept him out of right field since April 16.

On Wednesday, Phillies manager Joe Girardi told reporters that the doctor who administered the PRP injection advised Harper not to throw for at least six weeks. Harper will need ramp-up time after he starts throwing again, meaning it could be multiple months before he returns to right field.

“Two weeks of throwing, I don’t think would quite be enough," Girardi told reporters. "I think you’re looking at probably three or four. I don’t know. I don’t have the buildup. But I know it’s six weeks of not throwing.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 14: Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Bryce Harper (3) celebrates during the MLB game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 14, 2022 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
A UCL injury is keeping Bryce Harper out of right field for a while. But it's not stopping him from swinging a bat. (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Harper's been able to swing a bat with the injury. Thanks to the NL adopting the designated hitter this offseason, that means Harper's been able to maintain his hot start rather than sit on the injured list or wait strictly for pinch-hitting opportunities. Through 34 games, Harper's slashing .305/.361/.634 with nine home runs, 29 runs scored and 27 RBI.

Anticipated soreness from the PRP injection has kept him sidelined since Sunday, but he's expected to return to the lineup soon. His return to right field will have to wait.