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CHICAGO — Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper took another step in his rehab from Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, participating in batting practice off teammate Ranger Suarez before going through another round of defensive drills at first base.

“Grateful for every day,” Harper said after the workout. “Trying to get back as quick as possible but as smart as possible. Not taking my time — but doing it right.”

Harper, 30, hasn’t put an exact timetable on returning after injuring his left elbow last season but it’s becoming clear it’ll be earlier than originally announced. He had surgery in November with a goal of returning in July but he’s on pace for a first-half comeback, potentially at first base. Teammate Rhys Hoskins is out for the season opening up a new position for Harper.

“I still have a ways to go,” he said. “Still have to check some more boxes and get to where I need to be.”

One box yet to be checked is throwing a baseball. Harper fielded ground balls at first base on Tuesday but any throwing was limited to underhand tosses.

“I won’t be cleared to play any position until I can throw and do it the right way,” Harper said. “I don’t want to get out there and not play to my ability.

“I need to be smart in what I do. I’m not going to rush anything out there because it does no good for our team or our organization if I come back the fastest and not the smartest.”

One box that did get checked off was Harper facing a lefty for the first time during his rehab. Suarez, who also is rehabbing an elbow injury, threw about 25 pitches to Phillies hitters, including the former MVP.

“I hadn’t faced a hitter since like March 8,” Suarez said through the team interpreter. “Going from there to facing Harper is something. It’s good because it means I’m making progress and moving forward.

“I’ve been working really hard with the trainers. Finally, I have something to show for it.”

Suarez also wouldn’t put a date on his return but called it another “good step.”

Harper’s next one will simply include more batting practice.

“I still need to face live pitching,” Harper stated. “I’ve only faced it two times. I need to get back into the grind of things and understand that BP is BP. Anyone can have fun at 5 pm. It’s what you do at 7.”

Harper was asked if a May return was in the cards.

“I don’t know,” he responded. “I’m not sure … I have a while [until] I throw.”

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‘Grateful’ Bryce Harper takes next step toward return