Kale, Pilates and text messages from Tom Brady are all part of Bryce Harper's longevity plan

Kale, Pilates and text messages from Tom Brady are all part of Bryce Harper's longevity plan

CLEARWATER, Fla. – It’s a relationship between two of the biggest superstars in American sports.

One is still on top of his game at age 41.

The other wants to be on top of his game when he’s that age.

Bryce Harper and Tom Brady.


They’re buddies.

Not buddies in the typical hang-out-and-have-a-cold-one kind of way. In truth, they’ve never met each other in person, nor have they ever actually spoken to each other.

But the two stars do communicate fairly regularly via text message. Harper sent a congratulatory text after Brady won his sixth Super Bowl with the New England Patriots in February. A month later, Brady reached out after Harper signed his $330-million deal with the Phillies.

The relationship between the two men started a couple of years ago when Harper reached out to Brady on Instagram.

“I love watching the NFL,” Harper said. “Seeing the type of person he is, the type of player and teammate he is, the type of work ethic he has -- I just wanted to get to know him.

“You see what he does on a daily basis, how he goes about it, his life on and off the field, how he takes care of his body, a family man like he is – he’s somebody I want to follow, somebody you look at and try to understand how he got to that point, how he keeps doing it, how he maintains it.”

Harper, 26, broke into the majors when he was 19 and wants to play – productively – into his 40s, like Brady has. Part of Harper’s motivation in initially reaching out to Brady was to pick up a few tips on that. Brady has been generous in sharing his wisdom with Harper. The two men communicate about exercise programs, diet and other keys to competitive success.

“He’s given me advice on conditioning and I try to incorporate that into my workouts,” Harper said. “The big thing is you have to find out what works for you. Pliability is huge for me. Pilates really works for me. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I’m in there with pregnant women doing Pilates with them.”

Harper has a copy of Brady’s cookbook, The TB12 Nutritional Manual, and uses many recipes from it.

“Eating right is huge,” Harper said. “He signed one of his cookbooks for me and I follow that. Dairy-free. Avocado ice cream.”

Huh? Dairy-free? Didn’t Harper recently reach out to Phillies fans on social media and ask where he could find the best ice cream in Philadelphia?

“Yeah, I cheat now and then,” he said with a laugh. “But I do try stay away from a lot of that stuff so my body doesn’t break down.”

Harper has his diet analyzed every offseason.

“I don’t eat quinoa because it’s a big inflammatory for me,” he said.

His personal superfood?

“Kale,” he said.


Harper has only seen Brady in person one time; he was in the stands in Phoenix when Brady led the Patriots to victory in Super Bowl XLIX in February 2015.

“I’d love to meet him,” Harper said.

Hmm. The Phillies will be in Boston in August.

"I’ve already let him know that," Harper said.

If a meeting takes place, maybe these two buddies can hang out and have a cold one.

Uh, scratch that idea.

Harper doesn’t drink. Never has.

“My body is my temple,” he said. “Everyone talks about the money. But, for me, I wanted years, I wanted to play this game for a long time and build roots somewhere. For me, a 13-year deal was huge. I have to be able to prolong my career and prolong my body and that starts with what I do now.”

Tom Brady would offer a thumbs-up emoji to that.

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Phillies pitching prospect Zach Warren has a dirty car but a bright future

Phillies pitching prospect Zach Warren has a dirty car but a bright future

Every one of the 15 minor-league prospects that the Phillies have invited to big-league spring training camp has a story.

Zach Warren’s is unique because (in his heart) he was a Phillie before he was technically a Phillie.

Warren grew up in Vineland, New Jersey, in the “glory era,” as he correctly called it, when the Phillies were racking up National League East titles, going to two World Series and winning one of them. Young Zach rooted for Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, but his eye always drifted toward the work being done by Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, not surprising because Warren was a left-handed pitcher on the rise in those days.

After successful runs at St. Augustine Prep in South Jersey and the University of Tennessee, Warren is still a pitcher on the rise. Three strong seasons in the Phillies’ minor-league system earned him an invite to major-league spring training camp next month in Clearwater.

At the Phillies’ prospect-education seminar last week at Citizens Bank Park, Warren recalled the pinch-me moment when he got the phone call from Josh Bonifay, the Phillies director of player development, telling him he’d been invited to big-league camp, and following up that thrilling news with a phone call to his dad, Geoff.

“I had dropped off my car to be worked on in Vineland the day before,” Zach recalled with a laugh, “and my dad was a little unhappy because it was dirty and had no gas. I told him the news and that cheered him up.”

Warren, 23, is one of a handful of left-handed relievers coming to big-league camp on non-roster invites. Most, if not all, will open the season in the minor leagues, but team officials, including new manager Joe Girardi and new pitching coach Bryan Price, clearly want to get a look at what they have for future reference. The Phillies, under general manager Matt Klentak, have been aggressive running relievers in and out from the minors so it’s likely several of these relievers will get a shot in the majors this season. And if they throw strikes and get outs – well, they’ll stick around.

Warren, 6-5 and 200 pounds, was selected in the 14th round of the 2017 draft. He features a mid-90s fastball, a slider and a changeup. He has racked up double-digit strikeouts-per-nine innings in each of his three pro seasons. He spent the last two seasons working late in the game, including closer, at Lakewood and Clearwater. In 116 2/3 innings the last two seasons, he allowed just 76 hits and 34 earned runs (2.62 ERA) while striking out 180 and walking 66.

The 2020 season will be a prove-it one for Warren. He projects to make the jump to Double A Reading and be an important part of that club’s bullpen. Double A is the level where they separate the men from the boys. Have success at the level and you can rise quickly to the majors.

“I’m not thinking too far in advance, where I’m going to be and things like that,” said Warren, showing a healthy perspective. “All I can control is working on what I need to work on to get better and becoming the best player I can be. My ideal blueprint for this season is to make strides and get better and help my team win games and get to the playoffs.”

First-timers in big-league camp are like sponges. They soak up the experience and try to learn from the players who’ve walked the miles they hope to one day walk. Warren has a healthy respect for Adam Morgan, another lefty reliever and SEC product from the University of Alabama, and is eager to speak with him.

“I want to learn from Adam Morgan,” Warren said. “He was up as a starter and had to go to the minors to learn, adapt and change, and he developed and got back. I think there’s a ton I could learn from someone like that.

“I’m just looking forward to learning from everybody. I think it’s going to be a great experience and I can’t wait to get down there and get going.”

With a clean car and a full tank of gas, of course.


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Brian Dawkins schools Phillies prospects on how to handle boos

Brian Dawkins schools Phillies prospects on how to handle boos

A group of Phillies prospects was in town this week for the organization’s annual prospects education seminar.

One of those lessons came from a legend.

Brian Dawkins, the most motivational athlete this city has ever seen, shared with the group his thoughts on playing in Philadelphia and responding to the passionate fan base.

“Playing in Philadelphia is different,” Dawkins said. “If you get on the field, there is a 99.99 percent chance you will be booed. The thing I always knew though was that you may boo me that one time but I’m not gonna make the same mistake again.”

The group included Alec Bohm, the Phillies’ top offensive prospect, and Cristopher Sanchez, a pitching prospect with a 100 mph arm profiled here by Jim Salisbury.

Check out the video here if you’re seeking some extra juice at the gym or just want to see Weapon X drop some jewels.

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