CLEARWATER, Fla. -- After X-rays on his ankle were negative, Bryce Harper admitted he likely dodged a potentially different outcome after he was officially diagnosed with a right foot contusion.
“I wish I would’ve dodged the baseball,” Harper said. “Definitely could have been a lot worse, but felt good today coming in, was a little sore. Just going to take today and do what I need to do and hopefully see what we can do tomorrow.”
Manager Gabe Kapler said he felt confident that Harper would be in the lineup on Opening Day. Harper played catch on Saturday and did some agility work in the weight room.
“He looked good,” Kapler said. “We’re going to evaluate him in the morning and see how he’s doing.”
Harper agreed with that assessment that he doesn’t expect any further setbacks.
“If I felt that way, then I’d probably tell you guys," Harper said. "I really don’t think it’s an issue.”
Harper is day to day for the remainder of the spring after being hit in the right ankle by a 96-mph fastball from Blue Jays right-hander Trent Thornton on Friday at Spectrum Field.
Harper went to the ground after he was hit, clutching his ankle before leaving the field with assistance. Harper had preliminary X-rays done at the Phillies complex, which were negative, and then left to get more detailed X-rays.
Despite the positive news, Harper said it was a scary moment.
“Yeah, 96 to the ankle, it was the first time I’ve ever really gotten hit in that ankle bone,” Harper said. “You never really know what you’re going to get until you get an X-ray and things like that. The X-ray was negative. So just pretty much a contusion right now. Just trying to keep the swelling down and things like that.”
Harper said he wore his usual foot protection, but it doesn’t cover the ankle and he doesn’t plan on adding any additional protection.
“If I get hit there again … I don't know, it’s like putting [all your] money on black right?” Harper added.
It’s possible Harper, who did not play in Saturday's 13-5 loss to the Astros, could return to the lineup as early as Sunday, when the Phillies play the Yankees in Clearwater. He said that he needs to continue to get at-bats to work on his timing, but he also wants to be cautious.
“Yeah, it’s definitely important to get back out there and get the at-bats that I need, but also being smart,” Harper said. “I’d rather be healthy than get my at-bats and things like that. But of course, we’ll play it by ear and get out there as quick as I can to be able to get my at-bats in and do the things that I want to do, but also being smart.”
With the Phillies heading to Jupiter, Fla., and West Palm Beach, Fla., for games against the Cardinals and the Astros on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, Harper didn’t rule out the possibility of playing in Minor League games early next week, but he didn’t want to cram in a lot of at-bats and get off his normal game routine.
“If I have to go down to Minor League camp and play, I will,” Harper said. “For me, I don’t know if [cramming in additional at-bats] does anything for me. I feel like I need my at-bats and I need to feel what it feels like in the outfield and then coming back in, getting that at-bat and going back out [in the field] again.”