Harper and Didi slugging in Clearwater; Other Spring Training Notes
Bryce Harper was the designated hitter yet again for the Phillies yesterday in Clearwater, Florida. He has yet to play right field for the Phillies this Spring, but will certainly be starting there on Opening Day. There’s really no reason to rush Harper to the outfield until then. For players like Harper, Spring Training is about getting some quality at-bats to prepare for the season ahead.
Bryce Harper is doing just that. So far this Spring, Harper is 4-for-13 with a double, two home runs, and four RBIs. Yesterday, Harper fell behind 0-2 before crushing a 96.6 mph fastball to deep center. The ball came off his bat at 109 mph and traveled 436 feet before landing.
Harper doubled in the fifth inning off the centerfield wall. The most impressive part of the lineup came earlier in the third inning. After a McCutchen double, both Hoskins and Harper battled back after falling behind 0-2 to earn walks, loading the bases for Didi Gregorius. Didi, who is one of the best hitters in baseball with the bases loaded, did what he does best, and hit a grand slam to put the Phillies ahead 6-0 in the game. In 104 regular-season plate appearances with the bases loaded, Gregorius has seven grand slams, eight doubles, a triple, and 93 RBIs. You simply can’t do much better than that.
Zach Eflin was impressive yet again for the Phillies. He pitched four shutout innings and gave up just two hits with no walks, while striking out four. Over four innings, Eflin threw just 39 pitches. His efficiency was so good, he actually went out to the bullpen after he was done for the day to throw some more pitches to keep his workload for the day on pace with his normal routine.
Brad Miller tweaked his right rib cage running pre-game sprints before the game. The Phillies are hoping it wasn’t too serious and their bench utility man will be healthy for opening day. Miller will likely have an MRI just to be safe, but missing any amount of time this Spring will certainly affect his preparation for opening day. The Phillies have two other infielders on the 40-man roster in Nick Maton and CJ Chatham. Veteran infielder Ronald Torreyes is also in camp but not on the 40-man roster. The Phillies will have some decisions to make in the final days of camp if Miller ends up on the injury list.
The Phillies will play the Pirates in Bradenton today at 1:05pm. Matt Moore, the projected number four starter, will be on the mound today. Scott Kingery, Odubel Herrera, and Alec Bohm are all in the lineup.