Bryce Harper rejoins Phillies from injured list, Hector Neris goes on paternity list

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A major boost at a critical time for Phillies' below-average offense originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Bryce Harper is back and in the Phillies' lineup Saturday after missing 10 games with a left forearm contusion.

The corresponding roster move was closer Hector Neris going on the paternity list.

Harper initially suffered the injury April 28 in St. Louis when he was hit in the face by a 97 mph fastball. The ball ricocheted off his face and struck his wrist/forearm area. He missed the next three games, returned, hit .211 with 26 strikeouts in 57 at-bats, then went on the 10-day injured list.

The Phillies went 5-8 in the 13 games Harper missed early and late in May as a result of that HBP.

Though he wasn't hitting before missing these last two weeks, Harper's presence is sorely needed by the Phillies right now. They're 26-30 and averaging 4.07 runs per game. That’s 19th in baseball, though the number is 3.84 if you remove Tuesday’s rare 17-run game. 

The Phillies have been a below-average offense in a terrible year for offense league-wide. The lineup was viewed as one of their two main strengths heading into 2021 but it has been thinned by injuries for much of the season. Every position player from the Opening Day roster except Rhys Hoskins, Alec Bohm and Andrew McCutchen has missed time with an injury in the first two months, and Bohm and McCutchen have been their two least productive regulars.

Harper is hitting .274/.395/.489 with eight doubles, seven homers and 13 RBI in 162 plate appearances. He reached base in just three of his last 26 plate appearances before going on the IL and he wasn’t even taking his walks, which he typically does even when slumping. It was his worst stretch in three seasons as a Phillie.

Now, the Phillies’ lineup is almost entirely back intact with shortstop Didi Gregorius the only one missing. He’s been out since May 12 with a bone bruise on his right elbow. He has resumed hitting but could require a minor-league rehab assignment before returning.

They’ll need the lineup to start producing as anticipated in this challenging month of June. The Phillies’ next eight series after the Nationals are against the Braves, Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Nationals, Mets, Marlins and Padres. 

Here was the Phillies' lineup for the game Saturday afternoon against Nats right-hander Joe Ross (2-5, 5.40):

1. Odubel Herrera, CF

2. Jean Segura, 2B

3. Bryce Harper, RF

4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B

5. J.T. Realmuto, C

6. Andrew McCutchen, LF

7. Alec Bohm, 3B

8. Nick Maton, SS

9. Spencer Howard, SP

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