Bryce Harper has come out slugging in spring training

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Jim Salisbury
·3 min read
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Harper and Didi have come out slugging in spring training originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Bryce Harper is putting up some good power numbers in spring training, but you’re not going to get any predictions for the regular season out of Joe Girardi.

“I don’t ever put numbers on a guy like that,” the Phillies manager said after Harper homered and doubled in a 9-3 win over the Detroit Tigers in Clearwater, Florida on Saturday. “I think sometimes, you may keep them from going over those numbers. 

“I want Bryce to be as productive as he can be and whatever that is, that’s what we want. And if he’s productive, he’s going to have a good year. That’s the bottom line.

“I think putting a number on anything is a limitation. I just want a healthy Bryce that does his thing, and we’re going to look up at the end of the year and say he had a really, really good year. Maybe an MVP year.”

Harper was the designated hitter on Saturday. He has yet to play right field, where he will be on opening day. He played through lower back soreness during the final weeks of the 2020 season and the Phillies are not rushing him into the outfield. He is expected to begin playing right field toward the end of next week.

Harper’s offense looks pretty good so far. He is 4 for 13 with a double, two homers and four RBIs.

On Saturday, he clubbed a two-run homer in the first inning against Detroit starter Casey Mize, who was the first overall pick in the 2018 draft. (Harper was the first overall pick in the 2010 draft.)

Harper fell behind 0-2 in the at-bat and Mize came at him with a 96.6 mph fastball out over the plate. Harper didn’t miss it. He put a smooth swing on the pitch. The ball came off his bat at 109 mph and landed beyond the wall in center, 436 feet from home plate.

In the fifth inning, Harper doubled off the center field wall against Joe Jimenez.

Earlier, Harper was one of several Phillies to have impressive at-bats against Mize in the third inning. Andrew McCutchen doubled on a 2-2 pitch and Rhys Hoskins and Harper both fought back from 0-2 counts to draw walks. Didi Gregorius then came up and clubbed a grand slam to right.

Gregorius is a beast with the bases loaded. In 104 regular-season plate appearances with the sacks full, he has seven grand slams, eight doubles, a triple and 93 RBIs.

Gregorius’ grand slam came on a 1-1 cutter from Mize that was up in the zone.

“I was really impressed with that inning,” Girardi said. “Those are the at-bats you love. You make the pitcher work and when they’re working that hard, they’re going to make mistakes and Didi jumped all over it.”

On the mound, Zach Eflin was impressive for the Phillies. He pitched four shutout innings, gave up just two hits, no walks and struck out four. He threw just 39 pitches and had to throw a few more in the bullpen to get his workload up.

The Phils play the Pirates in Bradenton on Sunday. Lefty Matt Moore, the projected No. 4 starter, will make the start.

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