Bryce Harper could begin minor-league rehab assignment next week, per Rob Thomson

CINCINNATI — Phillies manager Rob Thomson has offered some clues on when Bryce Harper might begin playing minor-league rehab games.

“Early next week, possibly,” Thomson said before Tuesday night’s game against the Reds.

“We’re looking around that 24th date, somewhere around there.”

August 24 is next Wednesday. The Phillies’ top three affiliates — Lehigh Valley, Reading and Jersey Shore — are all at home.

“We think it’s probably going to be Lehigh,” Thomson said.

Plans are not firm because Harper is still working his way back from a broken left thumb and there has to be room to adjust if he needs more time to be ready to hit competitive pitching. Harper began hitting outdoors at Citizens Bank Park on Monday. Tuesday was a recovery day. Thomson said Harper would hit again outdoors on Wednesday.

If Harper is hitting in minor-league games next week, he could conceivably be ready to return to the Phillies’ designated hitter spot sometime during the final week of August or the first week of September when the Phils play series at Arizona and San Francisco.

SCHWARBER UPDATE

Kyle Schwarber was not in the starting lineup for a fifth straight game Tuesday night and it doesn’t look like he’ll start on Wednesday afternoon either. The Phillies are off on Thursday.

Schwarber has been nursing a mild right calf strain. It has improved every day. He ran in the outfield and took batting practice Tuesday. He was available to pinch-hit in the game.

“He’s a little better today,” Thomson said. “But unless he comes in and says, ‘I’m ready to go and I have no pain,’ we’ll probably wait till Friday” to get him back in the lineup.

The Phillies open a four-game series with the New York Mets in Philadelphia on Friday night.

PITCHING PLANS

Aaron Nola will start Friday night’s game against the Mets.

Zack Wheeler and Bailey Falter will start in Saturday’s doubleheader, order to be determined.

Kyle Gibson will move up and start Sunday afternoon’s series finale on regular rest.

The Phillies will give Noah Syndergaard an extra day of rest and he will not face his former team in the series. Instead, he will pitch against Cincinnati on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park.

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