Harper’s Grapefruit League debut on schedule for Saturday

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper (3) looks on during batting practice before a game between the Phillies and the New York Yankees at Spectrum Field.
Photo credit Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — After two days of simulated action against Jerad Eickhoff and Phillies minor league pitchers, newcomer Bryce Harper will face competition in an actual spring training game Saturday afternoon at Spectrum Field in Clearwater.

The plan is for Harper to be the Phils' designated hitter Saturday against the Blue Jays and get two at-bats.

Manager Gabe Kapler told reporters Thursday that he foresees Harper being at the top of the Phillies lineup when the season starts in late March.

READ: New-look NL East suddenly baseball's deepest division

“In the moment, I’m thinking about Bryce three or four, but certainly Bryce could hit two as well and (shortstop Jean) Segura could hit three,” Kapler said. “So, kind of depending on who we’re up against. The likelihood that you see a more consistent lineup is there, and one that you can kind of depend on, but there’s a lot of mix and match pieces in that one through five range.”

It’s most likely that Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, Harper, Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto will be featured in the first five spots.

Harper hit home runs in both of his simulated games, and he displayed that same power during batting practice this past weekend.

READ: Florida travel fares increase as fans flock to spring training 

“Starting to appreciate the intelligence, the preparedness, the work ethic, all of those things,” Kapler said about Harper.

“Harper-mania” has resulted in a large boost at the Phillies box office as well at their New Era Team Store at Citizens Bank Park, and this is only the beginning. It’s sure to be a fun summer at the ballpark with Phillies baseball as relevant as it was during the glory years of 2007 to 2011.