July 22, 2024

Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber hurt as Phillies’ injury concerns mount at halfway point

The Philadelphia Phillies reached the halfway point of the season with the best record in baseball and a pit in their stomachs.

An inning after their pacesetting leadoff hitter Kyle Schwarber left Thursday night’s game with groin soreness, Bryce Harper suffered a left hamstring injury on the final play of a 7-4 loss to the last-place Miami Marlins. Manager Rob Thomson said the Phillies would not know more about either player until they are further evaluated Friday.

Harper, who could be the National League’s player of the month for the second straight month, grabbed his hamstring as he attempted to beat out a grounder hit to the right side. He started hobbling before he reached the bag.

Losing one, even for a few weeks, would sting. Losing both at the same time would put an immense strain on the Phillies in the 17 days leading into the All-Star break, which begins July 15.

Harper last dealt with a knee injury in 2017. He hyperextended his left knee slipping on first base and missed six weeks. He’s never been put on the injured list with a hamstring injury. He might require it now.

Schwarber was playing left field for only the third time this season. He’s lobbied for more time out there, believing it could help the team as they search for more outfield production while freeing the designated hitter spot for other players.

The Phillies have padded their division lead to eight games at the halfway mark, but life without Harper and Schwarber would test them. They are already without catcher J.T. Realmuto, who expects to return in mid-July from knee surgery.

The Phillies could activate Kody Clemens, who is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is healthy, Thomson said this week. Clemens hit .256/.293/.615 in 41 plate appearances with the Phillies before injuring his back. He could become the first baseman against righties. Alec Bohm could see more first base time. The Phillies also have Darick Hall, a lefty-hitting first baseman, who has struggled to find his power stroke in the minors.

Infielder Buddy Kennedy, acquired in a small trade with the Detroit Tigers earlier this month, has hit .380/.475/.720 in 13 games with Lehigh Valley. He’s the hot hand, and that could warrant a call-up.

The day started with tests on right-hander Spencer Turnbull that revealed a strained lat muscle in his shoulder. He’ll miss at least six weeks, Thomson told reporters, and it’s inopportune timing for Turnbull. He was primed to recapture a rotation spot with Taijuan Walker on the injured list for at least another two weeks while the Phillies attempt to fix his splitter and add velocity through weighted-ball training.

Michael Mercado, a rookie righty called up this week, will slot into the rotation sometime next week.

(Top photo of Bryce Harper: Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)