Harper notches RBI single in return from IL

June 6th, 2021

PHILADELPHIA – In his return to the lineup, reached base twice and picked up a clutch RBI single -- all while surviving another potential injury scare -- in Saturday’s 5-2 win over the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.

Harper, who had been sidelined for two weeks with a bruised left wrist, was hit by a pitch on the top of his left foot in the bottom of the fourth inning. Though he stayed down briefly, he remained in the game after being checked on by the club’s training staff and manager Joe Girardi. He later provided an insurance run with an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.

“His presence is really, really important. Not only is his production really important, but his presence is extremely important,” said Girardi, who added that Harper was OK after the latest hit-by-pitch. “He did a really nice job. … There’s a lot of different things that he can do, and we’ve obviously missed that. It’s great to have him back.”

The Phillies are hoping the time off will help Harper get back on track. After slashing .321/.448/.615 in April, Harper posted a .211/.318/.316 line over 15 games in May, including going 0-for-16 with 10 strikeouts in his last four games before landing on the IL.

Harper's wrist injury dates back to April 28, when he was hit in the face by a 97 mph fastball against the Cardinals. The ball deflected off his face and into his wrist, causing Harper to miss seven of the next eight games before returning to the lineup consistently on May 8. He was later placed on the IL on May 25 (retroactive to May 23) when the injury resurfaced.

"It wasn't feeling right. It really just wasn't feeling good when I was swinging or [doing] any other activity, really," Harper said before Saturday's game. "We took a couple days to really try to decompress it and get stuff out of there that I needed to, and get the swelling out of there. I think the swelling was probably irritating me really bad. Every day was pretty much the same thing, trying to get out there and get the swelling out. It swelled during the game, then I'd do the same thing after the game to try to get it out of there.

"We finally just decided to take the 10 days to give it a break and give it a little rest. It's definitely helped. I feel a lot better."

Girardi said Harper is a full go at this point, and while the slugger agreed -- "When I say I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go" -- Girardi admitted that he'll be monitoring Harper's swings closely.

"There's always a concern in the beginning, when someone comes off an injury," Girardi said. "You kind of sit on the edge of your seat a little bit. ... You pay more attention. Your antennae are up."

Gregorius ramping up
After taking some swings on Friday, Didi Gregorius (sore right elbow) went through a full pregame batting practice session on the field at Citizens Bank Park prior to Saturday's contest against the Nats.

"I don't know how close we are yet," Gregorius said. "Today's the first day [of] full BP, so we'll go from here and see how it's going to react after that."

Gregorius said the swelling is gone at this point, but responded "just slightly" when asked if he still feels any pain in the area.

The club will wait to see how his elbow responds on Sunday before planning out the next steps, though Gregorius, who last played on May 12, said he will need a Minor League rehab assignment before returning to the lineup.

Worth noting
• Bryson Stott, the Phillies' No. 2 prospect, was named the organization's Minor League Hitter of the Month for May. The 23-year-old Stott posted a .288/.453/.548 slash line with five home runs in 22 games for High-A Jersey Shore. His impressive month earned Stott a promotion to Double-A Reading, where he debuted on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Bailey Falter earned the club's Minor League Pitcher of the Month Award after the left-hander put up a 1.93 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Utility player Luke Williams (Philadelphia's No. 29 prospect) rounded out the honors as the Minor League Defender of the Month.