CLEARWATER, Fla. — Bryce Harper is heating up. One day after stroking his first base hit of the Grapefruit League schedule, he swatted a pair of home runs in the Phillies’ 13-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.
Harper crushed both balls and they disappeared over the right-field wall in the blink of an eye.
“I thought the first one was a rocket and had incredible carry, and the second one, I thought, was squared up even better," manager Gabe Kapler said.
“And there was one foul ball before the second home run that he hit that we saw such tremendous bat speed. We were at a perfect angle on the side to see the bat whistling through the zone. Looks great.”
The Phillies had 12 hits in the game and six were homers. J.T. Realmuto clubbed his fourth of the spring. Andrew Knapp, Andrew McCutchen and Gift Ngope also homered.
Vince Velasquez allowed five hits, including a pair of homers, and three runs over 3 1/3 innings.
Velasquez has not shined in Grapefruit League action. He gave up five runs in two innings in his previous Grapefruit League outing.
Velasquez is out of minor-league options and the Phillies are committed to giving him a look in the rotation. But his leash might not be long with Jerad Eickhoff and Drew Anderson percolating in the minors.
The Phillies will likely skip Velasquez’s spot in the rotation during the first 10 days of the season. He could work out of the bullpen in that time. His next outing will likely be Tuesday, the day after the Phillies head north, in a minor-league game in Clearwater. He will look to get to 90 pitches in that outing.
With opening day a week away, the Phils continued to thin their spring roster. Outfielders Dylan Cozens and Adam Haseley and pitchers Anderson and James Pazos were sent to the minors. Infielders Gregorio Petit and Trevor Plouffe and pitchers Edward Parades and Jeremy Bleich were released.
In addition, infielders Phil Gosselin, Gift Ngoepe and Matt McBride and outfielders Shane Robinson and Lane Adams were informed that they will not make the big-league club. They will stay in camp through Monday then report to minor-league camp.
The Phillies don’t have to set a roster until noon on opening day, but will likely do it before then. We examined the likely roster here (see story).
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