Bryce Harper’s first hit in his first rehab appearance Tuesday night with the IronPigs was a good sign. He missed a pitch from Gwinnett left-hander Jared Schuster, and his left thumb was pain-free.
More good things followed. Harper homered twice, walked twice and scored three runs in Lehigh Valley’s 10-5 victory before a sellout crowd of 10,100 (and 195 dogs) at Coca-Cola Park.
The best sign of all, however, comes on Wednesday morning.
“That second day back is always tough for everybody,” Harper said. “When I wake up in the morning, we’ll see how I feel. This is a step in every day. Take it one day at a time, see how I feel each day and go from there.”
In a June 25 game at San Diego, Harper broke his left thumb when he was hit by a pitch. He has been training in Philadelphia for the past week.
The 29-year-old is scheduled to play every day for Lehigh Valley until Saturday before reevaluating the thumb. He made it clear that this is a changing situation, that it is not just results that need to be considered.
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“We’ll take it day by day,” he said, “realizing that tonight was a great night, right? But at the same time, I need at-bats. I need to see the courts, see different guys, different angles and understand how my body reacts and go from there.”
Harper hit a solo homer in the first and walked in the third against Shuster, the Braves’ first-round pick in the 2020 draft. He faced right-hander Darren O’Day, a rehabbing major leaguer with 15 years of MLB experience.
Right-hander Tyler Ferguson walked Harper in the seventh and left-hander Danny Young gave up Harper’s opposite-field triple in the eighth.
The 2021 National League MVP said Tuesday’s results were great, but it was nice to be back playing after nearly two months out.
“Definitely a little nervous, butterflies,” Harper said. “They are always part of the game. It’s always fun to go back there and play with guys I know. Being able to get back in the dugout and wake up this morning getting ready to play today, it was great.”
Harper, who has a partially torn UCL in his right elbow, also said he will not play the field this season.
Morning Call reporter Tom Hausnick can be reached at 610-820-6651 or email@example.com