CLEVELAND — Bryce Harper has made fairly a primary impression.
Making his first profession begin at first base, the Philadelphia Phillies’ star slugger made a troublesome catch whereas tumbling right into a photographers pit within the third inning of Friday night time’s sport towards the Cleveland Guardians.
Main off the third, Cleveland’s Amed Rosario hit a towering pop down the first-base line. Harper, who has spent the majority of his main league profession within the outfield, tracked the ball earlier than snagging it after which falling.
Harper was unhurt and popped to his toes because the Phillies and their followers probably exhaled in reduction.
The Phillies have moved the two-time MVP to first forward of the buying and selling deadline to see if he can deal with the place earlier than they make any strikes.
To date, so good.
Supervisor Rob Thomson stated the preliminary plan is for the two-time MVP to play within the discipline each different sport. Harper would be the designated hitter when he isn’t at first.
Harper, who has made a rapid restoration from Tommy John surgical procedure final yr, has performed 1,258 video games — principally within the outfield. He had not performed any protection this yr whereas his elbow recovers.
“I am excited to see how he does,” Thomson stated earlier than the opener of a three-game sequence with the Guardians. “We have ready him and now it is nearly getting used to sport pace and getting used to these conditions.”
As if on cue, Harper fielded a grounder by Cleveland leadoff hitter Steven Kwan within the first and flipped the ball to Phillies starter Ranger Suárez masking the bag for an out.
Thomson additionally joked he is completely satisfied to not need to reply any extra questions on Harper’s transfer.
Harper has been getting in additional infield work recently, and some days in the past he approached Thomson and stated he was prepared for a sport. Earlier than taking pregame grounders in Progressive Area, Harper chatted briefly with David Dombrowski, the group’s president of baseball operations.
Thomson is assured Harper will adapt shortly to his new spot.
“I do not assume floor balls will essentially be an issue and throws throughout the diamond will not be an issue or cuts and relays,” he stated. “The factor that he is bought to get used to is fielding the place on bunt performs, however we have had sufficient time working towards on that so I believe he will be effective.”
The defending Nationwide League champion Phillies enter the weekend 10½ video games out of first place within the NL East however within the thick of the wild-card race.
Not each participant might deal with a place change just like the one Harper is enterprise.
However he isn’t like most gamers.
“He expects quite a bit out of himself, that is for certain,” Thomson stated. “However I believe it helps being skilled, having the ability to deal with that versus a youthful participant that hasn’t completed a lot but. I believe he’ll be effective.”
With Harper at first, the Phillies can use Kyle Schwarber as their designated hitter. Nick Castellanos began Friday’s sport in proper and Philadelphia recalled Jake Cave from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to play left.
If Harper exhibits he can maintain issues down at first, the Phillies might pursue a right-handed-hitting outfielder by way of commerce.
A seven-time All-Star and one in every of baseball’s most dynamic gamers, Harper is batting .295 with 4 homers and 26 RBIs in 63 video games.
Guardians supervisor Terry Francona was assured Harper could make the place change with none issue.
“From watching him for years, he seems to me like a semi-decent athlete,” Francona joked. “He is had time to work at it and I am certain they would not put him on the market till they have been snug he have been going to have the ability to do it.”