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Eventful first day in London for the Phillies: ‘It's not just another series'

Eventful first day in London for the Phillies: ‘It's not just another series' originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

LONDON — The Phillies arrived in London around 11 a.m. local time Thursday.

Bryson Stott and Kyle Schwarber took a trip to Buckingham Palace.

Rob Thomson and the coaching staff rode the tube to Passyunk Ave, a Philly-centric sports bar in Waterloo.

Ranger Suarez went to sleep.

The well-rested lefty is good to go for Saturday's series opener at London Stadium after taking a 106 mph line drive to the thumb in his last start.

It will be a Phillies-Mets series unlike any other.

"It's not just another series," Bryce Harper said. "We're in London hanging out and playing. 'Business trip,' it's not that. This is for the game, this is for the fans. Obviously you want to win and do everything you can to do that but at the same time, it's tough to come all the way over here and not try to enjoy it. We've got two off days here, try to enjoy those because those are few and far between."

Harper has appreciated being able to walk around without being recognized and said it stuck out to him riding by a pub that people were enjoying each others' company without cell phones.

Stott had been to London before so he played tour guide for Schwarber.

"Me and Kyle walked around quite a bit," he said. "We went to Buckingham Palace, he wanted to see the guards. We ran into the Phanatic there. We were kinda incognito there for a second. Saw Big Ben, the London Eye. We're gonna go again.

"We all love each other and we all hang out. Just being able to walk around with five, six, seven of us. There's a lot of us with wives and kids who didn't make the trip so we're kinda all just messing around."

With 30 playoff games the last two years, the Phillies have gotten used to playing on the big stage. It's hard to imagine them being awed by the international attention.

"I think it's unique," Stott said. "The amount of cameras and media is very similar to the playoffs but I think just the overall feeling is a little different than say going to the NLCS or World Series. It's a ton of fun and we've had a blast so far."

London Stadium holds around 60,000 people. When asked if the size of the converted soccer field might change the dynamic of the games, Suarez shook his head no and said that when there are 45,000 Phillies fans at Citizens Bank Park, it feels closer to 100,000.

That crowd has helped the Phillies go 27-9 at home this season and 69-31 in their last 100 games at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets will be the "home team" on Saturday and the Phillies will be on Sunday.

While they already had a three-city road trip that began in Cincinnati and ended in Anaheim with another three-city West Coast trip to begin August, this is the most travel-heavy portion of the Phillies' schedule. From the time they flew to Colorado last week until they get to Boston after their series in London, they'll have traveled through 18 different time zones.

It's something that has been on the mind of Thomson, the coaching staff and front office for weeks.

"That can put a lot of stress on your body for a player so we're concerned about it," Thomson said. "We're trying to do everything we can so we don't get hurt. Our strength and conditioning department, our medical department, they've given us a lot of things to do. When to sleep, when not to sleep, things like that."

Thomson thinks Suarez will be able to pitch without limitations Saturday and that J.T. Realmuto will be good to go. The Phils' catcher took a foul ball to the groin late Tuesday night, then withstood a rare home-plate collision the next inning when Stott threw a Brewer out at the plate. He did not play Wednesday.

Realmuto took batting practice Friday afternoon and worked out as he normally would.

"We think so," Thomson said of whether he'd play Saturday. "We're going to add (Rafael) Marchan to the roster, he's going to be our 27th man. Basically it's because J.T. has been dinged up and just in case something happens, we have that extra catcher right there in the middle of a game."

The Phillies also added Darick Hall and Nick Nelson to the taxi squad. They'd be eligible to play in case there's an injury.

First pitch Saturday is 1:10 p.m. ET. Sunday's game begins at 10:10 a.m. ET. Until then, the Phillies are happy to roam the city, bond and create more memories.

"We never have two off days in a row," Stott said. "Being able to enjoy each other's presence, being able to kinda kill time but also enjoy it has been fun."