MLB, Rob Manfred Have No Time for Bryce Harper’s Elbow Brace

May 3, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Bryce Harper (3) scores a run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball is going all in on the new pace of play rules that debuted at the beginning of the season.  The latest victim of the rules, returning Phillies’ slugger Bryce Harper. But no the way many expected.

A lot was made about Harper’s desire to return to the lineup and forgoing a trip to the minors for a rehab assignment.  The talk on Philadelphia sports radio centered around Harper’s need to his timing down, more accurately his pitch clock timing down.  In his two games back in the lineup, the notoriously slow Harper has had no issues with the pitch clock while in the batter’s box. 

But, Harper and the Phillies have run into a bit of a problem on the basepath.  

As you know, Harper is wearing a brace while running the bases to protect his surgically repaired elbow.  The slugger reached base five times on Wednesday but only wore the brace four times. Harper struggled to get the bulky brace on and, despite Nick Castellanos taking a timeout to give him more time, was unable to do so within baseball’s new pace of play clock.  

So Harper went at it without the brace.  And Phillies fans and the organization held their collective breaths. 

Harper came out fine but it’s not an ideal situation. 

The Phillies and Harper recognizing the situation asked Major League Baseball for a time adjustment to finagle with the brace and protect one of the game’s biggest stars.  

Baseball said nope.  

That’s right, Harper must figure out how to get his brace on as quickly as possible because baseball is making no exceptions to the rule.  The rules are the rules and they ain’t changing. 

MLB does not make exceptions to the playing rules for individual players. The league consulted multiple orthopedists and athletic trainers before deciding on the current policy, which is that players are free to wear protective equipment while running the bases, provided they put it on within the proper time frames.”  MLB statement on Bryce Harper/Philadelphia Phillies request

So instead of working out at first base, Harper is going to have to spend copious amounts of time trying to perfect the art of putting on an elbow brace while heading down the line.  

Better hope the batboy/batgirl/batperson get the brace out to the field quick enough! 

As a fan of the pace of play rules, this seems like a drastic overreach by Major League Baseball and a recipe for disaster.  While good in theory, adding an additional 10-seconds to allow a player to properly protect themselves seems reasonable.  What’s the worst case scenario, games go from two-hours and five-minutes to two-hours and ten-minutes?

But hey! Those are the rules! 


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