NEW YORK – It’s all about the progression for Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber. Both continue to make progress on their way back to the Phillies’ lineup.
Schwarber is closer than Harper. He did not start for a third straight game on Sunday because of a sore right calf. Schwarber described his recovery as a series of steps: Step 1 is pinch-hitting, Step 2 will be getting back in the lineup as the designated hitter, Step 3 will be playing left field.
“I’m between Step 1 and Step 2,” he said Sunday morning.
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Schwarber was used as a pinch-hitter in Saturday night’s 1-0 loss to the New York Mets. He was available in a similar role Sunday afternoon.
As for Monday night in Cincinnati …
“We’ll see,” he said. “It’s up in the air.”
Schwarber grew up and still lives in Middletown, Ohio, about 40 minutes outside of Cincinnati. As eager as he is to play in front of family and friends, he will listen to his body and the team’s medical staff.
“I don’t want to do this again,” he said of the calf strain, “so I’m building back up, making progress.”
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’ll be nice to see family in the morning before heading down to Cincinnati and trying to win a ballgame,” he said.
Harper will reach an important step in his recovery from a broken left thumb when he starts taking batting practice at Citizens Bank Park on Monday. If all goes well after a few days of BP, Harper could start seeing high velocity from a pitching machine in the indoor cages. That would be the final step before heading out to a minor-league affiliate for some competitive at-bats.
Harper, who was injured on June 25, has pointed toward a “September-ish” return. His thumb is completely healed. He is pretty much in the driver’s seat as to when he wants to go out on minor-league rehab. The determining factor will be when he feels ready to see competitive, live pitching so just taking batting practice is an important step.