Bryce Harper is looking toward a “September-ish” return to the Phillies.
It probably means anywhere from the final week of August to the first week of September. But the Phillies never placed Harper on the 60-day injured list. If they had, he could not have been activated until Aug. 25. So, they at least considered the possibility he could return before that.
Harper is keeping himself busy in the meantime. He spent five innings in the Phillies’ TV booth on Thursday. It was an entertaining and insightful listen, particularly when Harper talked hitting.
The first pitch of the game rocketed into the radio booth and clanked off Scott Franzke’s hands. John Kruk remarked that everybody would be fired if the ball had sailed into the TV booth and hit Harper’s left thumb.
“Who approved me being up here?” Harper joked.
Rhys Hoskins homered to left-center field in the first inning to tie the game.
“He’s so good when he’s staying through the baseball,” Harper said. “It’s such an impressive at-bat when he’s staying through the ball and going to right-center. Then that accidentally just happens.”
Harper and Kruk discussed the responsibilities of a hitting coach. Many players get to the ballpark several hours before first pitch to hit. Hitting coaches are there the entire time.
“I don’t take BP much on the field because of that reason,” Harper said. “I think you can hit yourself into a slump as much as you can just get into a slump. I think guys just need to be part of the game. You can’t lose the feel part of your game because of video and stuff like that. You can dig a hole as deep as you can and not get out of it until that next year. I know guys that have played in the league that love to hit after games for two hours because they think they can hit out of it. I’m not one of those guys that can do that, because I just don’t [want] to do that. I don’t want to hurt my hands. There are certain things that guys can do to help them, but not trying to do too much [helps] as well.”
Alec Bohm has hit .400 since the end of June.
“Getting his foot down was huge for him,” Harper said. “It’s so smooth. … Alec is one of the guys that he wants to be so good. I love that mentality about him. But he’s going to struggle. It’s OK to struggle. I think you have to learn that as well. It’s OK to struggle. Every guy in this league struggles. That’s OK.”
Harper later remarked how much Bohm reminds him of Jayson Werth. It has been said before, but Harper offered his reasons why.
“The thing about J is J could get the base knocks to right, and he’d pull the ball to left-center over that Toyota sign [for a home run],” Harper said. “And then go right-center off the LifeBrand [sign hanging over the second deck]. He did such a good job of doing that. I see that swing in [Bohm] so much. So controlled, close to his body.
“If I’m going to teach my son how to swing, it’s going to be a very similar swing as J-Dub and Bohmer, because it’s so close to their body. It’s so compact. Everything they do is so compact. It’s so easy. There’s not many steps.”
Kruk asked Harper if he will employ a two-strike approach when he returns, since he has not seen live pitching in months. It means spreading out in his stance and ditching his leg kick.
“I don’t like to go into the two-strike approach unless I really, really have to,” Harper said. “I went into it a little bit more than I wanted to this year, just because I was rolling with it a little bit. I just don’t want to lose my 0-2 homers or my 1-2 homers or anything like that.”
Kruk told a story from his Padres days, and how a first-round pick looked terrible shagging fly balls in the outfield. Kruk asked the player if he was the bat boy and wondered how the Padres GM had not been fired yet for drafting him.
“Hey, how was your first day?” Harper said, laughing. “Well, John Kruk told me I’m the worst player in the country.”
Harper talked about youth athletes and the pressures they face.
“You are constantly trying to be like that other person,” he said. “You’re constantly trying to be better, to try to live up to what that kid is doing instead of worrying about what you’re doing, trying to be yourself and being great at what you do. Kids lose that sometimes. Also parents and coaches lose that because, ‘Oh, you’ve got to be like this guy,’ Or, ‘I want to swing like this,’ instead of letting your natural ability take over as a kid. You’re growing up. You’re playing the game and trying to play the game that you love because you love it. Kids are constantly trying to look like somebody else or be somebody else, instead of just trying to be themselves and love what they do and be great at what they do with their abilities -- and not somebody else’s.”
He talked about how kids are obsessed with local and national rankings and getting a Division I scholarship.
“If you’re good, you’ll be seen,” he said.
The broadcast replayed Harper’s walk-off grand slam against the Cubs in 2019. Kruk had a fantastic reaction as soon as the ball left Harper’s bat and sailed into the second deck.
“Oh, my god!” he said on the broadcast.
“I remember, Krukkie,” Harper said. “My dad texted me. What did you say? Oh, my gah? It was so cool.”
“I was glad that’s what came out,” Kruk said.
The rain helped, but Noah Syndergaard on Thursday threw a complete game in his Phillies debut. Who was the last Phillies pitcher to throw a complete game in his team debut?
A.) Roy Oswalt
B.) Cole Hamels
C.) Cliff Lee
D.) Roy Halladay
NOT YOUR 2018-2021 BULLPEN
If you watched David Robertson pitch a perfect ninth inning on Wednesday in Atlanta, perhaps you started to think crazy thoughts:
Maybe this year will be different.
Think about the Phillies’ midseason bullpen acquisitions from 2018-21: Ian Kennedy (23 G, 4.13 ERA) in 2021; Brandon Workman (14 G, 6.92 ERA), Heath Hembree (11 G, 12.54 ERA) and David Phelps (10 G, 12.91 ERA) in 2020; Jared Hughes (23 G, 3.91 ERA), Mike Morin (29 G, 5.79 ERA), Blake Parker (23 G, 5.04 ERA) and Nick Vincent (14 G, 1.93 ERA) in 2019; and Luis Avilan (5 2/3 IP, 3.18 ERA) and Aaron Loup (4 IP, 4.50 ERA) in 2018. None of them made the impact the Phillies hoped.
Robertson’s arrival lengthens a bullpen that has been remarkably effective since Rob Thomson became interim manager on June 3. Here is how they have fared from that date through Friday:
Connor Brogdon: 2-0, 1.32 ERA, one save, 14 appearances.
Seranthony Domínguez: 3-2, 1.45 ERA, six saves, 20 appearances.
Brad Hand: 1-0, 3.06 ERA, three saves, 19 appearances.
José Alvarado: 3-1, 3.12 ERA, one save, 21 appearances.
Corey Knebel: 2-1, 3.98 ERA, three saves in 21 appearances.
David Robertson: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, one save, one appearance.
Andrew Bellatti: 1-1, 2.84 ERA, one save, 21 appearances.
Nick Nelson: 2-1, 4.01 ERA, 15 appearances.
Seven of the eight relievers have at least one save.
ON THIS DATE IN PHILLIES HISTORY
The Phillies’ sellout streak at Citizens Bank Park ended at 257 games on Aug. 6, 2012, when they drew 41,665 fans against the Braves. It is the fourth-longest sellout streak in baseball history, behind Boston (794 from 2003-13), San Francisco (530 from 2010-17) and Cleveland (455 games from 1995-2001).
The Phillies’ streak started on July 7, 2009.
C.) Cliff Lee
Lee allowed four hits and one run in nine innings in a 5-1 victory over the Giants on July 31, 2009, in San Francisco.
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