Bryce Harper posted this pic on his account with the caption, "Aye Pham. You ready?" (Instagram/@bryceharper3)

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Read the news of the day in less than 10 minutes — not that we’re counting.

He’s back.

Bryce Harper, just 160 days after lying on the operating table for a reconstructive surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow, will be in the Phillies’ lineup tonight against the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

That’s more than two months faster than the organization originally outlined — and without any minor league practice games under his belt.

Folks, this is unprecedented. It is the fastest a human being has ever returned to game action following Tommy John surgery, blowing everyone’s expectations out of the water.

On the latest edition of Hittin’ Season, Liz Roscher and I spent the majority of the time marveling at Harper’s recovery and asking the obvious question. 

Is Bryce Harper a metahuman? 

Hard to say, as we’ve all known him to do superhuman things before.

YouTube video

After meeting in Los Angeles on Monday with surgeon Neal ElAttrache, who repaired his elbow, Harper was cleared to slide head-first in game action. He will likely continue to serve as the team’s exclusive designated hitter for another couple months, until additional healing allows him to throw. But even that will be on a rapidly increased timeline.

Position players who’ve had Tommy John surgery usually take 150 days of rest and rehabilitation before even starting to swing a bat. Harper is going to be playing big league baseball 10 days after that mark. 

Harper’s obviously not a pitcher, but even at first base — the position he’ll play when returns to the field — he’ll need to be able to toss the ball around the infield and make relay plays to the plate. 

It might be understandable for fans to be concerned he’s rushing back too quickly. But this is the Phillies star player, who’s under contract for many years to come.

Rest assured that everyone around him — from agent Scott Boras to manager Rob Thomson to team owner John Middleton and even surgeon ElAttrache — wouldn’t clear Harper to return unless there was no risk of damaging the surgery or rehab work he’s put in over these last few months. 

One would imagine there will be some rust to shake off. Although Harper has faced live pitching in simulated games, and gone up against a new hitting machine that simulates MLB pitching, jumping right back into action after missing the first month of the season is a huge challenge. He must also get used to the new pitch timer, so that will be an adjustment, too.

Nevertheless, Bryce Harper is back. He’ll be in the lineup tonight, a little over five months since a surgery that was supposed to keep him out for almost eight. 

He may be human, but if so, he’s just built differently.

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