Yahoo Sports MLB writers Hannah Keyser and Zach Crizer discuss the Phillies outfielder’s speedy recovery to the field just 160 days following Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Hear the full conversation on “The Bandwagon” and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.
HANNAH KEYSER: Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies returned. They were-- the Phillies were facing the Dodgers. Returned to LA 160 days after he got Tommy John surgery, which was immediately after the World Series ended last year. He played latter part of the season and the postseason with a torn UCL that he sustained last May. And he's back, not successfully so. He was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. The Phillies lost 13 to 1 to the Dodgers, but this is still incredible.
ZACH CRIZER: It is. So the previous record according to ESPN'S research, I did not do this counting myself. The previous record was 182 days by Tony Womack. If you remember, fast little infielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks mostly back in the day. He came back in 182 days, and you know it is normal that position players come back faster than pitchers because they don't need to do as much with their elbow.
Shohei Ohtani did this. If you'll remember, he had the season where he only DHed and didn't pitch. That was because of Tommy John surgery. So he was able to hit for most of a season without pitching. So the concept of Bryce coming back faster than a pitcher-- normal. But the concept of coming back this fast, completely unheard of.
HANNAH KEYSER: Yeah, the Shohei Ohtani example is a really interesting one because, right. It feels, first of all, like, Shohei Ohtani should be better than everyone at everything, and someone beat him at his own game. Not his own game, Bryce was only doing one thing. He's only DHing, we should say. I'm actually sort of less interested in the specifics of him returning from Tommy John surgery, although, that is really exciting, and more interested in the fact that it feels, really, in keeping with kind of like a new-- I'm very interested in Bryce Harper's career.
I think I saw a comment somewhere-- I'm going to steal the idea from like a random commenter somewhere. But someone had a comment on a story about his return that was sort of like, no one has ever like rehabilitated their image so subtly and so successfully. Went to Philly, he was like a total suck up talking about how much you loved Philly all the time, got the fanatic shoes, the fanatic head band.
ZACH CRIZER: He became an Eagles fan.
HANNAH KEYSER: Became an Eagles fan.
ZACH CRIZER: Allegedly.
HANNAH KEYSER: And it all felt sort of like, in keeping with this, like, almost like prima donna, he's a little too much image, and now he's a guy who's like fans of other teams, are like, you got to hand it to Bryce Harper. Like, I don't love the Phillies, but he's so much fun and a real tough guy. And he's like he hit 30 that last year, and now suddenly, is like, the beloved, not elder statesman, but sort of like the guy who's really like earning that $300 million.