Phillies lose Bryce Harper indefinitely with broken left thumb

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper suffered a broken left thumb when he was struck by a pitch from the San Diego Padres’ Blake Snell on Saturday night, an injury that will sideline the reigning National League MVP for the foreseeable future.

Harper was injured in the fourth inning of the Phillies’ 4-2 victory at Petco Park when he checked his swing as the pitch rose and the ball struck his hand as he leaned away. 

The team announced he will be out indefinitely, with further medical evaluation planned in the next few days.

“I’ve never had a hand injury like this,” Harper told reporters as he stood at his locker after the game, wearing a splint on his thumb. “Never broken anything in my life.

This is new to me, so I’m just going to go day by day, see kind of where we’re at and see the specialist in Philly. And if I do need to see another specialist somewhere, then I will.”

In immediate and obvious pain, Harper fell to his knees, holding his hand as Phillies trainer Paul Buchheit came onto the field. There were no immediate details on the fracture, and Phillies General Manager Dave Dombrowski, who was traveling with the team, said it was unclear whether he would need surgery. 

Last season, Harper managed to miss only a few games after being struck in the face by a fastball thrown by Génesis Cabrera of the St. Louis Cardinals, but this is clearly a different type of injury.

“I kind of wish it would’ve hit me in the face. I don’t break bones in my face,” Harper said with a laugh. “I can take [a 98-mph pitch] to the face, but I can’t take 97 to the thumb. Yeah, I was kind of in protection mode a little bit trying to get my hand up there and not let it hit me again. It’s just a bummer. I am really bummed out.”

That was apparent as he left the field, angrily directing comments toward Snell, who gestured that it was not intentional. Moments later, Harper seemed to say, “I know, I know.”

“It wasn’t heated at all,” Harper said. “It was just the moment and a crappy situation. I’ve been playing against Blake since we were 10, 11 years old, so I know there was no ill will behind that at all. The inside pitch is part of the game. He is a great player and a great human being as well. I wish him the best, and I told him to keep throwing that inside fastball because it sets up that slider really good.”

Snell told reporters that he had texted Harper. “Obviously, I felt terrible hitting him,” Snell said. “I don’t do that, and he knows that. We’ve talked. We’ve handled it. He plays with a lot of passion, and I can understand why he’d be upset. I’m just as upset as he is. … I just hope he recovers quickly and gets back out there and continues to compete.”