Phillies notes: Bryce Harper hits bombs, Zack Wheeler’s schedule, Bradley Zimmer arrives

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Phils notes: Harper hits bombs, Wheeler’s schedule, Zimmer arrives originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Phillies manager Rob Thomson got a live look at Bryce Harper taking batting practice Friday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

“Sixty swings,” Thomson said. “It looked really good. Really good. The bat speed is there. Bryce said he felt good. He looked normal. Hit a lot of balls in the seats.”

Harper, who is working his way back from a broken left thumb, was not available for comment. His dad, Ron, has been throwing BP to him.

Thomson said Harper would resume his work in the batting cage over the weekend and likely would not be back on the field until Monday. That could be his final step before heading off to the minor leagues to get some competitive at-bats.

“Probably sometime next week we’ll get him out on rehab,” Thomson said.

Best guess is Harper is taking swings as the designated hitter for Lehigh Valley on Tuesday or Wednesday. He should be ready to play for the big club in San Francisco on September 2, if not sooner.

The Phils did get one slugger back for Friday night’s series opener against the Mets. Kyle Schwarber, out of the starting lineup for six games with a right calf strain, was back in as the designated hitter. He is not ready to play the outfield.

Mr. Sunshine

Thomson said Zack Wheeler would start the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Mets. First pitch is 1:05 p.m. The teams play again at 7:15 p.m. Lefty Bailey Falter will start the night game.

Why Wheeler in Game 1?

“He wanted it,” Thomson said with a laugh.

David Peterson and Trevor Williams will be the Mets’ starters, order to be announced.

As previously announced, the Phillies will use Kyle Gibson on his regular day Sunday and push Noah Syndergaard back to Monday against Cincinnati.

Thomson said he wasn’t trying to keep Syndergaard away from his former club. Syndergaard is coming off Tommy John surgery and pitched on four days’ rest for the first time this season on Tuesday, so Thomson wanted to get him extra time even though Syndergaard wanted to pitch Sunday. Also, Thomson said he liked the success Gibson has had against the Mets this season. In two starts against the Mets, Gibson has allowed just two earned runs over 10 1/3 innings.

“Last time was the first time (Syndergaard) pitched on regular rest, so I’d rather err on the side of caution,” Thomson said. “And Gibby has a 1.74 ERA against them this season, so it was common sense. I look at the numbers and I have a feel and a gut that goes along with it, and I just felt that was the right thing to do.”

Right in there

Thomson wasted no time getting newly added Bradley Zimmer into the lineup. He started in center field and batted ninth against Mets’ righty Chris Bassitt.

Zimmer was picked up off waivers from Toronto after starting center fielder Brandon Marsh went down with knee and ankle injuries Tuesday night in Cincinnati. The Phils acquired Marsh at the trade deadline for his defensive prowess. Zimmer’s strength is also defense.

Zimmer was just 8 for 76 on the season with Toronto. He had just one plate appearance since July 22. He was designated for assignment earlier in the week and had been working out in Atlanta before joining the Phils.

MORE: Phils pick up CF as Brandon Marsh goes on injured list

Zimmer, who hits left-handed, comes aboard much for the same reasons as Marsh – for defense. He and righty-hitting Matt Vierling will likely end up in a center field platoon.

“Between Zimmer and Vierling, they’ll get it done,” Thomson said.

There is no timetable on when Marsh will return.