How to watch Harper's Phillies debut today
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Bryce Harper Show continues Saturday at Spectrum Field.
Harper will make one or two plate appearances in his Phillies debut in Grapefruit League action against the Blue Jays. He will DH, meaning the sellout crowd might want to find its seats by first pitch or it could miss him.
The anticipation, even for this soon-to-be-forgotten Spring Training game, is real. It will be broadcast live on MLB.com at 1:05 p.m. ET via a simulcast of MLB Network's full-game coverage.
“Before anything else, we are fans of the sport and fans of talent,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Friday afternoon at Champion Stadium. “I’m just excited to see him in his first game action. He’s been so focused in what appears to be low-pressure situations. There’s one other guy who I’ve seen take things so seriously, like a live batting practice session on a backfield against Minor League pitching, and that’s Clayton Kershaw.
“Clayton Kershaw will go down on a rehab assignment and he’s pitching in that contest like it's Game 7 of the World Series. No lack of intensity, same focus. Bryce is kind of similarly wired. I’m excited to see what he looks like in his first Spring Training game.”
Harper is likely to play right field Monday against the Rays at Spectrum Field. He will make one or two plate appearances in that game, too.
Harper’s first week-plus with the Phillies has been eventful. He agreed to terms on a 13-year, $330 million contract on Feb. 28. The Phillies immediately sold 110,000 tickets. The team announced the deal on Twitter on March 1. Harper’s introductory news conference last Saturday on NBC Sports Philadelphia won every key demographic in the Philadelphia area.
The Phillies said they sold 340,000 tickets from the time the Harper news broke 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 28 through 3 p.m. Thursday.
Eflin making strides
Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin allowed one hit and two walks in 2 2/3 scoreless innings during Friday's 5-4 loss to the Braves. He struck out three. He has allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings this spring.
Eflin enters camp with a secure spot in the Phillies’ rotation for the first time in his career, allowed to work on things in games, instead of focusing on putting up zeroes in order to win over the front office and coaching staff.
He offered an example of that in the third inning when he threw a 3-2 changeup to Josh Donaldson, which resulted in a walk.
“I kind of sped him up a couple times, and I wanted to place one low and in on him, but I kind of spiked it a little bit,” he said. “So pitches like that are the ones I’m working on, offspeed in crucial counts. So far, so good. I’m just kind of working on keeping it going.”
Aaron Altherr went 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI and one run scored. He is competing for a job in the Phillies’ outfield.
Catcher Andrew Knapp went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. He is expected to be J.T. Realmuto’s backup.
Phillies' center fielder Odubel Herrera (Grade 1 left hamstring strain) is expected to run Saturday. Second baseman Cesar Hernandez (strained right hip flexor) took live BP off Minor League pitching Friday in Clearwater.
“My expectation is that both of those guys have a good opportunity to be fully ready to go on Opening Day,” Kapler said.
Roman Quinn (strained right oblique) is running. His status for Opening Day remains unclear.
“I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that he surprises us,” Kapler said. “I want to keep that open.”
Phillies right-hander Jake Arrieta, who worked three scoreless innings in his spring debut, faces Blue Jays right-hander Matt Shoemaker (0-0, 5.79 ERA) on Saturday afternoon in a Grapefruit League game at Spectrum Field.