Nola plays first intrasquad scrimmage; Harper has fun at third base

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Phillies manager Joe Girardi experimented with Monday’s intrasquad scrimmage — and it caught a lot of eyes when right fielder Bryce Harper played third base. 

Last week, Girardi noticed Harper taking grounders at third. He was impressed. 

“And I went to him and said, ‘Man, you look good.’ He goes, ‘You think I’ll play third one day?’ And I said, ‘Well, we’ll probably keep you in right (field).’ We were kinda joking around. So today he’s like, ‘Let me play third.’ And he kept asking me, asking me, I said, ‘All right, one inning. That’s it — one inning!’ ”

Harper successfully fielded a ball. 

“I said, ‘There is no diving.’ He said, ‘Instincts, Skip!’ And I said, ‘No, there is no diving!’ So we made a pact,” said Girardi. 

While Girardi was trying to keep summer camp fun, make no mistake: Harper is the Phils everyday right fielder. Jean Segura is expected to play the bulk of third base. 

Aaron Nola plays first scrimmage 

Aaron Nola saw his first scrimmage action of camp, throwing 47 pitches. Girardi said it’s a possibility Nola could be good for Opening Day on July 24. If he doesn’t pitch on Opening Day, Girardi said Nola will the first time through the rotation. 

The Phils ace was a late arrival to camp because he had to quarantine after being around someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reported Nola faced 14 batters, while allowing two hits and two walks, striking out one, and leaving the scrimmage with the bases loaded. 

“I thought he threw the ball pretty well,” said Girardi. “I thought he lost his command a little bit at the end, which is probably normal; probably comes just like any other spring training. They start to get a little fatigued at the end, but I thought he was pretty sharp.”

Spencer Howard’s future with Phils

Top pitching prospect Spencer Howard is on Phillies fans’ minds. Pitching coach Bryan Price said if Howard is the guy they think he is, he’ll have a nice future in Philadelphia. 

“But at some point and time, he has to develop a workload,” Price said. “Last year was shortened by injury on the front end, and so workload is important, and if he doesn’t make the team out of summer camp, then he’ll be getting workload in Lehigh Valley.

“But I would really hope and expect to see him pitching here — if not on Opening Day, then at some point and time, because he really needs the work and I think he’s ready to compete at this level.” 

Price didn’t want to give Howard a ceiling because it’s unknown how prospects will pan out in the big leagues. That being said, Price didn’t hesitate to shower Howard with some praise. 

“He’d be a top-end prospect in any organization because he has power, he throws strikes, he’s athletic, he’s a got a really, really good changeup and breaking ball, and the key component there is stuff with strikes, stuff with command,” he said. “The sky is the limit, and in the same respect, then you have to get to the big leagues and perform at this level before you start to define where you are.”

Girardi said on Monday that Zack Wheeler and Vince Velasquez are scheduled to pitch in Tuesday’s scrimmage. Howard is slated for live action on Thursday. ​

After playing each other for nearly the past week, the Phillies will travel by bus to scrimmage at the Washington Nationals on Saturday. Then, they’ll play at home against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, and at the New York Yankees on Monday.