Bryce Harper's Return Date Could Be Much Sooner Than Expected

It's been a long time coming for the Philadelphia Phillies, but superstar Bryce Harper is finally on his way back to a baseball field for some game action. He'll begin his rehab assignment on Tuesday, and his return to the Phillies lineup could be as early as next Monday.

Harper has been out for about two months (since June 25th) with a broken thumb. The reigning NL MVP has been taking batting practice on the field at Citizens Bank for a week. A sweet sight to see for Phillies fans.

Finally, some competitive at-bats are next, for Triple A Lehigh Valley, according to manager Rob Thomson.

"I feel good," said Harper. "I'm getting a lot better. The more I hit, the more I use it, it's getting better. Yeah, I think we're happy where we're at right now. We'll just progress as we see fit."

Harper says his strength level is at "85 to 90 percent"; he believes he can close the gap to 100 percent during his minor-league rehab stint. 

September 2nd is the date when rosters expand from 26 to 28, so many are pegging that as the day that Harper will return. 

He'll be the DH when he does return to the lineup, as his elbow issues will preclude him from throwing from the outfield.

Photos: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports