Bryce Harper has been cleared for return and is expected to be in the Phillies lineup Tuesday

Bryce Harper will be back with the Phillies as their designated hitter on Tuesday, 160 days after Tommy John elbow surgery.

LOS ANGELES — Now, after all the swings and punching exercises and final clearance from his surgeon Monday, Bryce Harper was able to say the soft part out loud.

He planned it that way.

“I looked at that [Dodgers] series in the offseason and got my head where I needed to be,” the Phillies face said on the eve of his return to the lineup as batsman-designated in a 160-day wink after ligament reconstruction in his right elbow. “I wanted to get inside my head as early as possible to work towards something to get out of there. Could have been mid-April; could have been late May. But I wanted to put my mind to something.”

So why the first week of May? And that postcard view of a ballpark in the hills of Los Angeles where Harper made his major league debut 11 years ago?

“It’s May 1st, a month into the season,” Harper said. “I really think having five months to play this game helps everyone in this field.”

And so, Harper emerged from a morning appointment with noted orthopedist Neal ElAttrache with no restrictions, at least as a hitter. When he returns to Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, he will play — 2½ months ahead of the Phillies’ first “by the All-Star Break” prediction for his return.

Take a moment and think about it.

Even Harper told The Inquirer two weeks ago that it was “kind of crazy” to be contemplating a return in early May. But here he’s faster than any major league player to ever return from surgery commonly known as the “Tommy John operation.” The fastest major league return to date has come from Cardinals infielder Tony Womack, who returned in 182 days on Opening Day 2004, although it’s worth noting that not every operation occurs at the same time on the calendar or offers a chance for an immediate return.

» READ MORE: Bryce Harper will return to the Phillies lineup Tuesday. Is it too much, too soon?

Two factors worked for Harper to expedite his return: First, he hits with his left hand so his right (front) elbow isn’t dominant when he hits and is under less strain when he’s swinging. He also has an opportunity to return to a role that didn’t exist in the National League when fielders like Carl Crawford (221 days) and Luis Gonzalez (246 days) returned from Tommy John surgery.

Harper also had 90 games as a DH last year after initially injuring his elbow to understand what it feels like to play a full-batsman role. He knew how his elbow needed to feel and how far he could push it.

“That definitely helped me,” Harper said. “I know how it felt last year. I knew it would be a little different because I had surgery. But it definitely gave me a sense of how it should feel when I’m playing.”

When Harper reported for spring training on March 9, neither he nor the Phillies deviated from the original “through the All-Star break” timeline. As recently as two weeks ago, Harper promised not to rush back, and that his mission was to return safely, not quickly.

But he responded well after hitting practice on the field at Yankee Stadium on April 5. He competed against live pitchers including Ranger Suárez, No. 3 starter, who is returning from an elbow injury. Harper got about 50 bats vs pitchers.

The final verdict came when ElAttrache allowed Harper to slide at full speed and headfirst. There was concern that slipping too soon would put the new tape in danger of tearing. But one athletic trainer recently said those worries were overblown because sliding “is not a typical mechanism for [elbow] Injury, historical.” ElAttrache told Harper his elbow was poised.

» READ MORE: What’s the Phillies’ optimal batting order if Bryce Harper returns?

“Something could happen, a tag to me, or I’ll slip into a pocket,” Harper said. “But I learned today that it wouldn’t matter now or in two months. I’m healed where I need to be. We’re just going to play the games hard, play the right way and not play the craziness of my way.

Good luck with that, manager Rob Thomson said.

“Even if we tried, we couldn’t do it,” Thomson said of trying to rein in Harper’s violent swing or aggressiveness on the bases.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts joked to Harper before the game that he should “sit out for three more days.” Harper has warned that it may take time before he improves his timing. Last year he went 20-to-93 with 30 strikeouts in his first 26 games after a two-month absence with a broken left thumb.

Thomson wouldn’t reveal exactly where Harper will score in the batting order, although his usual No. 3 spot is a solid guess. Regardless, it will be near the top. There will be a trickle down effect. Harper’s return as DH means Kyle Schwarber has to play at left field every day. Schwarber appeared to limp at times, but neither he nor the Phillies are claiming anything is wrong.

In 29 games without Harper, who went into Monday night’s series opener against the Dodgers, the 15-14 Phillies led the National League in hits (273) and finished second in batting average (.272) and fourth in slugging (.444) and OPS (.771).

But they also only had the seventh most runs (126).

» READ MORE: Can AI pitching technology help Bryce Harper return to the Phillies even sooner?

“It really creates a long lineup,” Thomson said. “When you see the line-up [Tuesday]you’re going to see some pretty good thugs down there because [Harper] is back. Once he gets hot, we’ll be a handful.”

Harper will continue to work daily at first base, according to Thomson, although it will be a while before his throwing program reaches full strength. He’s been playing catch from 60 feet for the past week and will move up to 90 feet this week.

In the final game without Harper, struggling shortstop Trea Turner switched to the DH role. Turner, who has played every previous game at shortstop, drew a 6-for-42 funk into the series with the Dodgers, his former team. He hit .260/.300/.374 with four doubles, two triples and two homers.

The Phillies also need to do something to get Harper back on the active roster. Left-handed outfielder Jake Cave and infielder Kody Clemens can be sent to the minors without facing waivers.

“I think there’s excitement,” Thomson said. “Everyone knows what a great player he is, what a great hitter he is. I think everyone is excited.”

#Bryce #Harper #cleared #return #expected #Phillies #lineup #Tuesday

Redfall review ongoing - IGN

Redfall review ongoing – IGN

Rewind: Denver Nuggets lead 2-0 over Phoenix Suns in semifinals of NBA playoffs

Rewind: Denver Nuggets lead 2-0 over Phoenix Suns in semifinals of NBA playoffs