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Bryce rocks J.T. shirt in support of teammate

@ToddZolecki
July 3, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Is Bryce Harper sending a message or does he just really love his white J.T. Realmuto T-shirt? It is probably a little bit of both. The Phillies had a Realmuto T-shirt giveaway last Aug. 15 at Citizens Bank Park, and Harper said he wore it underneath his jersey

PHILADELPHIA -- Is Bryce Harper sending a message or does he just really love his white J.T. Realmuto T-shirt?

It is probably a little bit of both.

The Phillies had a Realmuto T-shirt giveaway last Aug. 15 at Citizens Bank Park, and Harper said he wore it underneath his jersey the final few weeks of the 2019 season. But Harper understands branding, messaging and his influence in the organization and city. It seems more than just a coincidence that he has worn the Realmuto shirt each of the past three days at Citizens Bank Park, including Friday’s first official Summer Camp workout in preparation for the '20 season.

Harper raring 'to get back to it' -- and air high five

Realmuto not only is one of Harper’s favorite players, but he also can be a free agent after the season.

Harper wants the Phillies to sign him to a contract extension.

“No message,” Harper told reporters on Zoom. “But I think J.T. is a great player. If the Phillies don’t end up signing him back, which would be terrible and sad, I think there’s a lot of other teams out there that are going to want to sign the guy. He’s a Gold Glove-caliber catcher every year, he’s a great person, a great player. I mean, everybody in this organization from the top down wants to see him in red pinstripes for the rest of his career, and hopefully we can make that happen.”

It is more than reasonable to think Realmuto could land a deal anywhere from four to six years. But as of early this week, the Phillies have not spoken to his agent about an extension. Sources said in March that the parties were not close to deal, and there was some thought that they would not reach one before the original Opening Day in late March.

“Obviously, I don’t need to tell you guys this, that the landscape we left in March is going to be different than the one we return to now, and we just have to see how that manifests itself in our discussions,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said earlier this week. “We still love the player. We still would love to have him in red pinstripes for the long haul, but there’s a lot of uncertainty in the game right now on a variety of levels, so we just need to factor that all in. I wish I had a more concrete timeframe to give you, but I think we just need to play that out, because I don’t know the answer.”

Maybe Harper will continue to wear the Realmuto T-shirt until he signs an extension.

Hope it holds up in the laundry.

“I wore it pretty much the whole second half of the season,” Harper said. “It was T-shirt day at the ballpark and I wanted one. I stole one for this year as well because it was very comfortable underneath my jersey, and I think it gave me a little bit of good luck.”

Roster transactions
The Phillies announced that catchers Henri Lartigue and Logan O'Hoppe and right-hander Anthony Swarzak have been added to the 60-man player pool.

Where is Didi?
Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius was one player noticeably absent from workouts. Manager Joe Girardi said Gregorius flew into Philadelphia on Thursday, and he hopes Gregorius will be in uniform on Saturday.

Day 1
Girardi said he thought Day 1 of Summer Camp went smoothly.

“We had 14 different groups between two fields today,” he said. “I think what has impressed me the most is how prepared the guys were for this and where physically most of them are at. We had our first live BP today. I'm expecting there to be more. That would never happen in a normal Spring Training. Cole Irvin threw a BP. We probably had 10, 12 bullpen sessions today. So that's what has impressed me the most.

“I was also impressed at how good our guys followed the instructions about wearing masks and social distancing and sticking to a schedule. It's not something anyone is used to. Not being in close contact with your buddies in the clubhouse. They were really good today.”

Girardi said he hopes to play a number of intrasquad games at some point. Eventually, the Phillies could finish with exhibition games with an opposing team within driving distance of Philadelphia. He also said he plans to stretch out as many starting pitchers as possible, rather than begin to transition somebody to a bullpen role. The nature of COVID-19 is that it can strike anybody, so the Phillies need to keep everybody prepared to start in case they lose a few starters to the virus.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .