CLEARWATER, Fla. — Bryce Harper on Tuesday continued the ramp-up toward his spring debut.
The new, headline-grabbing, shirt-selling Phillie spent some of the morning in the batter's box, tracking pitches during Zach Eflin's between-starts bullpen session. He also took some indoor batting practice before a morning rainstorm cleared out.
Harper is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut Saturday as the Phillies' designated hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays at Spectrum Field.
In preparation for that, Harper will hit in simulated games on Wednesday and Thursday.
He will join Gift Ngoepe in hitting against Jerad Eickhoff in a simulated game at Spectrum Field on Wednesday morning. On Thursday, he will hit against pitchers at the minor-league complex in a simulated game. Pitchers bear down in a simulated game and throw all of their pitches without telling the hitter what is coming.
After his morning workout Tuesday, Harper joined his new teammates in the dugout for the first few innings of the Phils' Grapefruit League game against the Cardinals. Harper spent a couple of innings leaning on the railing, speaking with young outfielder Mickey Moniak. Both are former No. 1 overall picks in the Major League Baseball draft.
"It was really cool," Moniak said of his conversation with Harper. "He's very impressive.
"He told me to be myself. He said, you got drafted where you got drafted for a reason, so be confident in the way you go about your business and always put winning first. He said, don't care if other teams hate you, all that matters is the guys in your clubhouse and having one goal with them."
Aaron Nola made his spring debut in the game and looked good with three shutout innings. He allowed a hit, a walk and struck out three.
Nola is well aware of the buzz that Harper's addition has created back in Philadelphia.
"I've heard about the ticket sales," he said. "Since 2015, I hadn't seen, maybe one time, that place sold out. All those guys that played in '08 and '09, that's what they talk about, the fan base and how amazing it is with all those people in the crowd and we're looking forward to it. It's going to be fun.
"There was a lot more people here today. It felt more like a game and I think we're going to feel it more this year. We have a really good team."
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