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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