Bryce Harper talks about his broken thumb

The Phillies won a game Saturday night against one of the four teams they’re chasing in the wild-card race, but they lost something much more important. 

The face of their franchise, the reigning MVP and the player who’s carried them for the better part of a year is out indefinitely. Bryce Harper has a fractured thumb, thanks to a 97 mph Blake Snell fastball that got away Saturday night in San Diego.

This will not be a short absence. Harper will be placed on the injured list Sunday and Mickey Moniak will be recalled from Triple A, but there is obviously no replacing Harper, internally or externally.

“I’ve never had a hand injury like this, I’ve never broken anything in my life,” Harper said. “This is new to me so I’m just going to go day by day. 

“I hate being hurt. Things happen for a reason, everybody says that. This reason sucks right now. But I’ve got to be positive for the guys in here, I know they’ll pick up the slack. I’m just really bummed for the organization, for the guys, the city of Philadelphia, the fans. I love running out there and playing every day. Definitely bummed.”

Harper has played through a host of injuries since the start of 2021 but has been on fire without cooling off since last year’s All-Star break. After winning his second National League MVP award, he hit .318/.385/.599 in his 275 plate appearances this season before the thumb fracture. He hasn’t been able to play the field because of a small tear in his UCL, but his bat has been completely unaffected.

 

There was an initial scare Saturday that Snell’s fastball hit Harper in the face, not the thumb. Harper was hit in the face last season by a 98 mph fastball from Cardinals reliever Genesis Cabrera, a scary and painful injury that can cause even the best of them to lose confidence at the plate. It didn’t happen with Harper.

“I kind of wish it would have hit me in the face. I don’t break bones in my face, so …” Harper said with a slight smile. “I can take 98 to the face but I can’t take 97 to the thumb.”

There is no good that can come from this, but the Phillies at least have five weeks before the trade deadline to find another hitter, whether it’s an outfielder or DH.

“He’s a guy who’s not really replaceable on an individual basis but we’re in a position where other people need to step up offensively,” president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “That’s what teams have to do, they have to pick it up, even for star players.”

Harper will see a hand specialist this week in Philadelphia to determine the next steps. Surgery could be required. Either way, it looks like Harper will be spending considerable time on the shelf after appearing in 92% of the Phillies’ games since signing here.

“I’ve been able to be out there with my UCL and be totally fine with swinging the bat, and then the freak infection with my hand, and then getting hit in my hand,” Harper said. 

“I want to play, I want to be with the boys. Just a gut-punch.”

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