Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper took part in a live batting practice off teammate Ranger Suarez before going through another round of defensive drills at first base.
The two rehabbing Phillies participated in the live session at Guaranteed Rate Field 90 minutes before first pitch of the Phillies-White Sox game.
Ranger Suarez threw 25 pitches in the batting session and Bryce Harper was in the box for about a dozen of them.
This was Harper’s first live look at left-handed pitching during his rehab. He faced right-hander Nick Nelson last week in Philadelphia and will continue to see live reps once the Phillies return after the White Sox series.
The session Tuesday was a mixture of live BP and a simulated game as Harper and Cristian Pache left the batter’s box after putting the ball in play. Harper hit a ball hard to the warning track that was run down by reliever Craig Kimbrel, who was shagging balls in center field. He hit another on the ground between first and second base.
After facing Suarez, Harper quickly went back to the clubhouse to regroup before taking drills at first base for 15 minutes. Infield coach Bobby Dickerson hit him grounders and short-hops while third base coach Dusty Wathan caught Harper’s underhand tosses.
Harper has been cleared for sliding. “I’m cleared to slide right now, practice sliding,” he said. “I’ve been sliding into first base so it’s pretty similar to me doing that, same impact, sliding into second feet-first.”
Harper was initially going to return as the designated hitter and fill that role until the end of 2023, but a need has arisen at first base with Rhys Hoskins out for the regular season with a torn ACL and Darick Hall out about two months after thumb surgery.
The Phillies plan to play Harper at first base this summer, but he won’t play the position until he has been cleared to throw and dive.
“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.
Harper has never played first base before, but he had never played the outfield prior to the Nationals drafting him and moving him there.
“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.”
Phillies star Bryce Harper. Photo courtsey of RealGM Wiretap