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The Philadelphia Phillies were just starting to find their stride after a disappointing start to the season. Since Joe Girardi’s firing on June 3, the Phils rattled off 16 wins in 26 games to get back over .500 and put themselves right in the thick of the Wild Card race.

Then, disaster struck.

Over the weekend, Bryce Harper took a 97-mph fastball to the left thumb. He immediately left the game holding his hand as Philadelphia fans collectively saw the season flash before their eyes. On Tuesday, the Phillies received both good and bad news about Harper’s injury and his chances of returning to the lineup this year.

The bad news: Bryce Harper fractured his thumb and will need surgery

Bryce Harper reacts after getting hit by a pitch.
Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts after getting hit with a pitch during a game against the San Diego Padres | Denis Poroy/Getty Images

It was a scary scene Saturday night when San Diego Padres starter Blake Snell lost control of a fastball that seemed destined to hit Harper in the head. Thankfully, the Phillies slugger got his face out of the way of the 97-mph pitch, but he still couldn’t escape disaster.

The fastball ended up nailing Harper square in the left thumb, and the reigning NL MVP fell to the ground in pain. He eventually walked off the field, visibly upset, and didn’t return to the game.

“I kind of wish it hit me in the face,” Harper said after the game, via The Associated Press. “I don’t break bones in my face. I think I can take 98 to the face, but not 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.”

Harper had to be even more bummed out when he learned that he fractured his left thumb and will require surgery to repair the injury. It’s a surgery that could knock Harper out for the entire year, but it sounds as if Harper avoided a season-ender.

The good news: Bryce Harper could return to the Phillies in six weeks

Surgery is never good news for your best hitter and one of MLB’s brightest stars, but the Phillies did receive a slightly optimistic update about Harper’s injury this week. On Tuesday, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported in a tweet that Harper could return to the lineup in “give or take” six weeks.

If that turns out to be the case, Harper could be back in action by early August. Considering the regular season doesn’t end until October 5, the All-Star outfielder should be healthy and ready to go for a possible playoff run.

The sky isn’t exactly falling for the Phillies, but they’ll need to have a strong July without Harper to put themselves in position for a late-season push to the playoffs.

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