Bryce Harper says that he's been making solid progress in his recovery from offseason surgery to debride and repair the bursa sac in his left knee, but it sounds like there's a chance that he won't be full strength when spring training begins.
Harper says that he's rehabbing the knee three times a week at this point and he's at week 12 or 13 in what he's been told is a 16-week rehab process.
He sprinted for the first time three weeks ago and says that he felt good. But with position players scheduled to report to spring training on Feb. 18, it seems possible that Harper won't be 100 percent by that date, as general manager Mike Rizzo indicated earlier today that the left fielder would.
"It's going well right now," Harper said. "Trying to get back to full strength and we'll see where I can get by spring training. See if I can go through spring training and get to 100 percent by the time the season starts. See where I'm at."
Harper twice ran into an outfield wall last season; April 30 against the Braves and then May 13 in Los Angeles. He landed on the disabled list in late May and missed over a month with left knee bursitis, but indicated that his knee might have been bugging him even before the wall collisions last year.
"To be able to hit with no pain and run with no pain (recently) was a lot of fun," Harper said. "I hadn't hit with no pain for about a year. So that's not very fun to go through a year, year and a half with pain. You know you're gonna have your ups and downs and have to play through pain, but it's something that I didn't like doing and it didn't feel very good. But being able to hit, being able to run, being able to track baseballs and things like that has been a great offseason. It's a lot of fun to be able to do it not hurt."
Harper has started doing some lower-body lifting, but he's not near where he normally would be at this point of the offseason in that regard.
"Just trying to get those triggers in my knee and everything firing," Harper said. "Just trying to get stronger in those areas. I need to strengthen everything in the outside part of my knee so that I can start working on my quad, start working on my hammys, things like that.
"Going into spring training, I'll have to work my tail off to keep my lower body in and see where I'm at. ... It's all about how I feel on rehab and how I feel that day. If I'm not feeling very well, if the knee isn't reacting very well, then I'll take a day off and see where I'm at that next day."
For what it's worth, manager Matt Williams said that Harper's situation will be "fluid" in spring training, and that he'll work with Harper to try to balance getting him enough at-bats with easing him into action and not rushing things.