Phillies

Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins immediately show how dangerous middle of Phillies' order can be in Harper's debut

Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins immediately show how dangerous middle of Phillies' order can be in Harper's debut

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The atmosphere was festive and the crowd was one of the biggest in Spectrum Field history as Bryce Harper stepped to the dish for his first spring training plate appearance as a Phillie.

After swinging through a 95 mph fastball from Matt Shoemaker for strike one, Harper took four consecutive balls. Get used to the sight of Harper trotting down to first base. The only player in the majors with a higher walk rate than Harper last season was Mike Trout.

Moments later, Harper came around to score when Rhys Hoskins demolished a fastball right down the middle for a two-run homer. The no-doubter cleared Frenchy's in left field. As he crossed home plate, Hoskins, Harper and J.T. Realmuto exchanged high-fives in a moment that would have seemed extremely improbable just a few months ago.

"He said get used to that, which obviously is funny, a cool moment. Hopefully, the first of many," Hoskins said Saturday (see story).

In his second plate appearance, Harper walked again before being replaced by pinch-runner Adam Haseley.

With nobody on base Harper's second time up, the Blue Jays put their third baseman in the outfield. They used four outfielders and had three infielders on the right side with nobody on the left side.

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Philadelphia native Mike Koplove emerges as strong candidate for Phillies' scouting director job

Philadelphia native Mike Koplove emerges as strong candidate for Phillies' scouting director job

The Phillies have two huge job openings to fill in their baseball operations department.

Obviously, they are looking for a new manager, and that process ramped up on Monday.

The team also needs to fill the important scouting director’s role. That job opened when Johnny Almarez stepped down in September.

The search for a new scouting boss is being led by assistant general manager Bryan Minniti and it is apparently well underway.

According to multiple major league sources, the Phillies have conducted a number of recent interviews for the position. Among those to interview are in-house candidates Greg Schilz, Mike Koplove and Darrell Conner.

Outside candidates, according to sources, include David Crowson of the Miami Marlins, Sam Hughes of the Chicago Cubs, Brian Barber of the New York Yankees, Dan Ontiveros of the Kansas City Royals and Scott Meaney of the Cleveland Indians. All have high-ranking scouting positions with their organizations.

It’s possible that there are other candidates or more will emerge. But these are the names being talked about in baseball circles at the moment.

Schilz ranked No. 2 in the Phillies’ amateur scouting staff behind Almaraz. He joined the club in the fall of 2016 after 12 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates and was elevated to assistant scouting director in the fall of 2017.

Koplove is an interesting candidate. He is a Philadelphia native who pitched at Chestnut Hill Academy and the University of Delaware before spending parts of seven seasons in the majors with Arizona and Cleveland. He earned a World Series ring with the Diamondbacks in 2001.

Koplove spent six seasons on the scouting staff of the Anaheim Angels before joining his hometown team as a special assignment scout prior to the 2018 season.

Conner is a longtime Phillies scout who has risen to the role of national scouting coordinator. He was influential in identifying Cole Hamels as having first-round potential and staying on the pitcher after he broke his left arm the summer after his sophomore year.

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At The Yard podcast: Phillies' manager search could be quick

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At The Yard podcast: Phillies' manager search could be quick

Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman discuss the Phillies' managerial search, which began in earnest Monday, on the latest At The Yard podcast.

• Phillies' busy day Monday in New York with Showalter & Girardi.

• Are inexperienced managers definitely out of the conversation?

• Why the fan preference is definitely Girardi.

• Is Phillies job better than Mets job? Better than Cubs job?

• What to make of Gabe Kapler immediately getting 2 interviews.

• Odubel Herrera's future.

• Phillies' future at 2B

• Why we might see a stop-gap third baseman in 2020.

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More on the Phillies