For the first time since he was a 19-year-old kid awaiting his big league debut, Bryce Harper took at-bats during a Triple-A game on Tuesday.
Ten years have passed since his teenage days. Harper has won two MVP Awards and turned into the premier baseball superstar that everyone anticipated during that period.
And he didn't disappoint. In his first rehab appearance, serving as the designated hitter and hitting second in Triple-A Lehigh Valley's lineup, Harper went 2-for-3 with two home runs, two walks, four RBIs and two runs scored in the IronPigs' 10-5 win over the Gwinnett Stripers.
On the fifth pitch he saw in the first inning, Harper hit a soaring solo shot to right field to get the IronPigs on the board. He walked in the third inning before grounding out to second base to end the fifth. Harper took another walk in the bottom of the seventh inning. In the eighth, with two runners on and one out, Harper smacked a three-run homer down the left-field line to extend Lehigh Valley's lead to four.
Harper, who hasn't faced pitching since June 25 against the Padres when Blake Snell hit him with a fastball and broke his left thumb, could return to the Phillies as early as next week.
Harper plans to play with the IronPigs through Saturday. He won't play Sunday, which will allow him to fly with the Phillies from Philadelphia to Phoenix on Sunday night if he feels he is healthy and ready to play. The Phillies open a three-game series against the D-backs on Monday.
Harper was enjoying an excellent season before breaking his thumb, batting .318 with 15 home runs, 48 RBIs and a .984 OPS in 64 games. At the time of the injury, Harper ranked fifth in the National League in batting average, sixth in on-base percentage (.385) and second in slugging percentage (.599).