Bryce Harper has dealt with back soreness for more than a month, manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday, but he is not expected to require offseason surgery.
“I don’t think it requires anything but rest to heal,” Girardi said. “I don’t think it’s a disk issue or anything like that. He just needs rest, probably like 900 other players in the big leagues.”
Harper has dealt with the soreness “off and on” for the last four or five weeks, Girardi said. That could explain Harper’s decline at the plate. Before he homered in two of his first three plate appearances in Wednesday night’s game, he was hitting .188 with four home runs and a.722 OPS since Aug. 26. Before that, Harper was hitting .317 with seven homers and a 1.091 OPS.
“Bryce never wants to come out of the lineup. Just who he is,” Girardi said. “He’ll never make an excuse for anything. He tries to grind through everything. There’s been times where I’ve sat him. I sat him down one day, I didn’t really give him a choice. But he has better days than others. And it’s been frustrating for him and for us. We’re just trying to get through it. And we believe that he’s always a presence.”
Harper’s back soreness was not made public until Sunday, after Harper removed himself from the game. He received treatment after the game and has been in the lineup for four games since. He was the designated hitter on Wednesday.
“His back has been nagging for quite some time, and people didn’t even know it really until recently,” J.T. Realmuto said. “He’s been playing through some stuff for a while, but he’s the kind of guy who if there’s any opportunity for him to be in the lineup, he’s going to be out there and try to help the team.”
The Phillies are off on Thursday. ... Vince Velasquez will start Friday night in Tampa Bay, followed by Zack Wheeler on Saturday and Aaron Nola on Sunday for the final game of the regular season. ... Spencer Howard, on the injured list with a sore shoulder, might join the team this weekend and pitch in relief. He threw Wednesday in Allentown, and the early reports were encouraging.