Phillies can and should worry about Bryce Harper's brutal spring training

Bryce Harper hasn't quite looked himself in MLB spring training. Just weeks before Opening Day, should the Phillies be worried?

Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Seven
Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Seven / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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Bryce Harper hasn't played in his last two spring training games and isn't expected to moving forward. While the Phillies claim they aren't concerned about Harper, he is hitting just .227 this spring and has yet to hit a single home run.

Perhaps this comes off as doom and gloom -- and to some extent that's the truth, as spring training stats shouldn't be taken all that seriously. Even manager Rob Thomson acknowledged that Harper will be ready to go by Opening Day despite an untimely injury.

"He’s just got a little bit of back stiffness, and we went on the road. So I backed him off. He’s been doing a lot of work. A lot of swings. A lot of defensive work. So he just got a little stiff. So we’re just being precautious and just back him off for a few days," Thomson said, per The Athletic.

Why the Phillies should be concerned about Bryce Harper

When asked if this was similar to the back issues that have bothered Harper in the past, Thomson was surprisingly open, while also trying to quell any looming concern.

“Yeah, it’s similar, but it’s really just stiffness, so I don’t have any concern at all. He’s going to be ready by Opening Day. He’s going to be playing for sure by the end of the week. So ready to go," Thomson said.

The real issue here for Philadelphia isn't whether or not Harper will be ready for Opening Day -- that's an assurance at this point, per Thomson. However, if Harper's suffering a reoccurring back injury (Jayson Stark notes that Harper suffered a similar injury in September 2020, April 2021 and last August), that is rarely a good sign for a player his age. It's also limiting his reps as he prepared for the 2024 season.

While no one should shout from the rooftops regarding what could just be a blip on the radar of an exciting Phillies season, Harper's injury status -- and perhaps struggles as a result of -- are worth keeping an eye on.

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