A recent story by Matt Gelb on TheAthletic.com mentioned that pretty much anybody who spends time around the team can sense the restlessness that Bryce Harper feels by missing time on the field. While there really is little that can be done to speed up Harper’s return to the lineup, the outfielder/designated hitter is looking for both a loophole that might allow him to return a little earlier and that will also help the team both now and possibly, long-term.

Gelb details how Harper approached team officials about the possibility of playing first base. Team execs, Rob Thomson, coaches and medical staff kicked the idea around and like it. From there, Thomson called Harper into his office and told him it is a “full go.”

That’s as much about the article that I will disclose, since it is behind a pay wall. By the way, if you do not subscribe to The Athletic, what’s the matter with you? You definitely should!

Conventional wisdom had Harper playing exclusively as a designated hitter when he returns from off-season Tommy John surgery, but his faster than expected rehab is raising hope that he may not only be serving as the team’s DH sooner than thought, but could be playing defensively in right field – or now, possibly first base – before the end of the season.

There are basically just two issues keeping Harper from returning. The largest obstacle for now is that he has not been cleared to slide or dive for a ball. Without being cleared to slide, he is not going to be playing in any games, obviously. While being a DH requires no throwing, it does still require some sliding, obviously. The other is not being able to throw. Even as a first baseman, Harper would be required to throw, albeit shorter distances. He also may need to make hard throws to the plate or another base, which could be an issue.

The bottom line on Harper is that there is no definite timetable for his return. He still has some obstacles to get past, but he is now taking BP off a high velocity pitching machine. The news there is that his swing appears to have returned to what fans are used to seeing from Harper. While the timetable is up in the air, he appears to be headed for a return which will be faster than initially thought. Early estimates were early September, which was unofficially moved up to mid-July around the all-star break. Optimistically, a projected date now is Memorial Day, but that is both unofficial and optimistic.