NEW YORK – It’s all about the progress of Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber. The two continue to progress on their way back to the Phillies roster.
Schwarber is closer than Harper. He did not start for a third straight game on Sunday due to right calf pain. Schwarber described his recovery as a series of steps: Step 1 is a pinch hit, Step 2 will return to the lineup as the designated hitter, Step 3 will play out to left field.
“I’m between stage 1 and stage 2,” he said Sunday morning.
Schwarber was used as a hitter in Saturday night’s 1-0 loss to the New York Mets. He was available in a similar role on Sunday afternoon.
As for Monday night in Cincinnati…
“We’ll see,” he said. “It’s in the air.”
Schwarber grew up and still lives in Middletown, Ohio, about 40 minutes from Cincinnati. As eager as he is to play in front of his family and friends, he will listen to his body and the team’s medical staff.
“I don’t want to start again,” he said of the calf strain, “so I’m rebuilding myself, I’m progressing.”
At the very least, Schwarber can sleep in his own bed and be a bat off the bench and maybe — maybe — a DH during the Phils’ three-game visit to Cincinnati.
“It will be nice to see the family in the morning before we go to Cincinnati and try to win a baseball game,” he said.
Harper will take a major step in his recovery from a broken left thumb when he begins batting practice at Citizens Bank Park on Monday. If all goes well after a few days of BP, Harper might start to see the high velocity of a pitcher in the inside cages. This would be the last step before heading to a minor league affiliate for competitive beats.
Harper, who was injured on June 25, pointed to a “September-ish” return. His thumb is completely healed. He’s pretty much in the driver’s seat as to when he wants to do minor league rehab. The deciding factor will be when he feels ready to see a competitive live pitch, so just practicing batting is an important step.