Bryce Harper expects to play all weekend, wants teammates to 'ride on his shoulders'

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Bryce Harper expects to play all weekend, wants teammates to 'ride on his shoulders'

TAMPA, Fla. — Bryce Harper is used to being received negatively whenever he hits the road. It was his reception when he'd come to Philly, it might be his reception when he returns to D.C. this season and beyond, and it was the case Wednesday night when the Phillies visited George M. Steinbrenner Field.

When Harper stepped to the plate for the first time in his third spring training game ... well, the Yankees fans weren't saying Boo-urns

This is the life of a charismatic superstar. Fans boo who they can't have. I asked Harper Wednesday night if he feeds off of it like a heel in wrestling.

"You hear 'em, but I've been hearing 'em so long," he said. "Every season, every stadium I go into, I expect to get booed. Just part of the game, I don't know if it helps me or not."

In his third game of the spring, Harper went 0 for 2 with a strikeout and a soft groundout to first base against Masahiro Tanaka. In his third plate appearance, he reached via catcher's interference on the second pitch and stole second base. He asked the home plate umpire if he could stay in to hit, but he was told to go to first.

Harper expects to play for the Phillies in all three games in Clearwater this weekend: Friday vs. the Blue Jays, Saturday vs. the Astros and Sunday vs. the Yankees. All games are 1:05 p.m. start times. Friday's game is on NBC Sports Philadelphia+ and the next two are on NBC Sports Philadelphia. All three are on the MyTeams app.

Prior to Wednesday's game, Harper met Yankees legend Reggie Jackson while taking batting practice. 

"Just being able to talk to him for a second, Reggie Jackson knows who I am and that is pretty cool," Harper said. 

There are probably a few young players in Phillies camp who feel that way about Harper, who's been a star since he was a teenager. One of the benefits of having a player like Harper in the clubhouse is that the young guys can look to him when things are going south and see how he handles it. 

There are few better players than Harper to seek out for advice on how to handle all this newfound attention the Phillies will have.

Last season, Rhys Hoskins became the de facto guy in the Phils' clubhouse to speak after most games, win or lose. Hoskins handled it incredibly well because he's a 26-year-old who's mature and polished beyond his years. He's still a leader for these Phillies but doesn't have to carry as large a load every single day if he doesn't want to.

Harper shared his own thoughts Wednesday on how he handles all the attention thrown his way and what advice he'd give to his even younger teammates.

"I'm not really worried about people with microphones or notepads or anything like that. Just try to go out there and be yourself," he said. "If you have a bad game, talk to the media. If you have a good game, talk to the media. It's one of the big things that's tough for young guys and I was part of that as well — 19 (years old) coming up sometimes 0 for 4, I'm sitting there going, golly, I don't want to talk to them again. But also, I want them to be able to lean on me and say I can't do it today and I'll answer those questions as well. 

"I want to be able to be a guy that lets them ride on my shoulders a little bit and if I have to talk to the media one day for them, I will. But like I said, play the game you know how to play. Enjoy what you do. ... Don't be scared and try to enjoy it. If they're talking to you, just enjoy. They've got a job to do just like you guys and people need to understand that. That's the biggest thing."

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Jake Arrieta upset with Bryce Harper for ejection, sounds off on 'flat' Phillies

Jake Arrieta upset with Bryce Harper for ejection, sounds off on 'flat' Phillies

NEW YORK — Jake Arrieta slammed the shelf above his locker at Citi Field, still peeved moments after speaking with reporters.

Arrieta pitched relatively well in the Phillies' 5-1 loss to the Mets (see observations). The source of his anger was an untimely ejection of the Phillies' best player, Bryce Harper, in the top of the fourth inning, combined with an overall "flat" performance from the Phillies' offense.

The 33-year-old former Cy Young winner didn't mince words. He didn't rush to defend Harper or belabor the quick hook of home plate umpire Mark Carlson, who tossed Harper for arguing balls and strikes in the Phillies' dugout.

"He's got to understand, we need him in right field," Arrieta said. "I don't care how bad the umpire is. He wasn't great for either side. I'm out there trying to make pitches, he misses some calls. So what? We need him out there. 

"We were flat from start to finish. Two-hour delay, it doesn't matter. We have to be ready to play. We weren't and it showed.

"It's troubling. I'm out there doing everything I can to win a game. I need my guys behind me and they weren't."

Harper was upset during his own fourth-inning at-bat, which ended in a called strike three. One of the pitches to Harper was slightly out of the strike zone, up and away. Four batters later, Hernandez took a pitch high and out of the zone, even more so than the one to Harper. It was called a strike and Harper said something that was deemed by Carlson to be over the line. In a blink, and before any warning was issued, Harper was sent to the showers.

"He made a comment when he was in the batter's box and then he made a comment as he left the batter's box after he struck out," Carlson said after the game. "What he said warranted an automatic ejection."

From Carlson's perspective, Harper's comment was personal and involved foul language.

The ejection was the 12th of Harper's eight-year career, second-most among active players to Matt Kemp. "I'm usually zero to 100," he said. "If you look at all my ejections, it's usually pretty calm and then bam, once it happens, I try to let it out I guess."

Sometimes, a moment like that can galvanize a team, create some positive energy. It didn't on this night. After Harper's ejection, Hernandez singled, then the next 16 Phillies went down in order to end the game.

"Emotionally, it should have given us a boost but it didn't," Arrieta said. "We were flat. The dugout was flat. The defense wasn't good. We didn't throw the ball well as a staff overall. We got beat."

Arrieta would have preferred Harper showed more restraint.

"We need him in right field. I don't care how bad (the ump) is, I need him in right field, I need him at the plate and he wasn't there. So that hurts.

"He missed some pitches but for both sides. If that's the case, that happens on a nightly basis usually. The umpire is going to miss some calls. So what? Next pitch. We've got a game to play.

"I'm not happy with the way we showed up today. We need to come out tomorrow ready to go."

Arrieta is clearly one of the leaders on this team and he was clearly delivering a message to Harper and his teammates Monday night. The pitcher had not yet talked with Harper before speaking to reporters.

The Phillies have lost four of their last five games. At 12-10, they are tied with the Mets atop the NL East. The Phillies have played 15 of their 22 games against NL East teams and have gone 9-6.

"I said it from the start. This first month was pretty important, with all the divisional games," said Rhys Hoskins, whose 401-foot home run was the Phillies' only run. 

"I don't think anybody in here is hitting the panic button at all. We've been pretty good at bouncing back. I think all of us in here are feeling pretty confident going into tomorrow. We're fine."

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Mets 5, Phillies 1: Bryce Harper ejected, Phillies' offense silenced

Mets 5, Phillies 1: Bryce Harper ejected, Phillies' offense silenced


NEW YORK — Bryce Harper got tossed, the Phillies' offense went silent, and following a 95-minute rain delay, the Phils were defeated 5-1 Monday night by the Mets.

Harper got the hook for arguing balls and strikes in the top of the fourth inning. Cesar Hernandez took a high pitch out of the zone that was called a strike and Harper said the magic words, resulting in an ejection from home plate umpire Mark Carlson. 

It was the 12th ejection of Harper's eight-year big-league career.

The Phillies have lost four of their last five games and are 12-10. The Mets have the same record.

Huge difference a week makes

Last Tuesday, all eight Phillies Steven Matz faced reached base and came around to score. He didn't record an out.

Facing the Phillies for a second straight start Monday, Matz dealt. Over six innings, he allowed one run on three hits and struck out six, including four K's the first four times he faced Harper and Andrew McCutchen.

Can't cash in

The Phils clearly miss Jean Segura, as any team would. Losing one hitter really can make a profound impact on a lineup, especially when he has the bat-to-ball skills and .328 batting average Segura has provided. On this night, it forced Gabe Kapler to move J.T. Realmuto up to the two-hole, which weakened the five- and eight-spots with Maikel Franco also moving up.

The Phillies' best run-scoring opportunity came in the third inning when Cesar Hernandez doubled, Aaron Altherr walked and Jake Arrieta sacrificed them over to second and third. McCutchen struck out and Realmuto grounded out to end the inning.

The Phillies' only run came on a 401-foot home run from Rhys Hoskins, again on a low pitch. Hoskins demolished an 84 mph changeup to left-center field and it barely went out because of the wind. On a normal night, it might have gone 430.

Can't blame Arrieta

For the fourth consecutive start, Arrieta pitched into the seventh inning. He couldn't complete seven innings this time, being pulled after allowing a leadoff single.

Through five starts, Arrieta is 3-2 with a 2.65 ERA. He struck out seven Mets, five looking.

He kept the Phillies in the game and didn't allow much hard contact but received just the lone run of support.

Injury updates

It sounds like Segura will return Saturday when he is first eligible to be activated from the 10-day IL.

Odubel Herrera may require a few additional days.

Scott Kingery is farther away. The Phillies won't have a timetable for another few days.

All three are dealing with hamstring injuries of varying degrees.

Up next

Zach Eflin (2-2, 3.68) opposes Zack Wheeler (1-2, 6.35) at 7:10 p.m. on NBCSP+.

The Phillies will want to take advantage of missing both Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in this series.

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