Harper not concerned about back soreness

Slugger misses Monday's game, hopes to return to action on Friday

March 18th, 2024

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- said he is not worried. Not one bit.

But he will miss his fourth consecutive Grapefruit League game on Monday because of soreness in his lower back. Harper said he felt discomfort in his back after leaving Thursday’s game against Boston at BayCare Ballpark. He said he hopes to play by Friday, whether it is against Detroit or at the Carpenter Complex.

“I kind of overdid it,” Harper said, referring to his everyday baseball work.

Harper has had back issues in the past, although he has never been placed on the injured list because of them. He said he thinks this current issue is unrelated because it is located in a different spot.

“I feel pretty confident,” Harper said. “I’m fine.”

Last season, Harper experienced mid-back spasms in an Aug. 10 game against Washington. He left that game early, then missed the next day’s game before returning to action. Harper started 14 of the next 20 games at DH before returning to regular action at first base on Sept. 5.

“I don’t think that was very severe either, though, at that point,” Harper said. “I don’t have spasms right now, which is good. I’m just sore.”

Harper plans to be the Phillies’ everyday first baseman this year, leaving behind his former job as a right fielder.

Asked if he has any sense how his new position could affect his back, Harper said, chuckling, “I mean, my back hurt when I played the outfield, too. I don’t know. Obviously, it’s going to be a transition at first base. I’m going to feel aches and pains. I did last year. My aches and pains were more in my legs than they were in my back at first, just from the stretching and being on my feet. But I feel like it’s kind of the same, that feeling of standing every day or all over. But, it’s [infield coach] Bobby [Dickerson’s] fault. He’s working me too hard.”

Harper laughed again.

Harper added that when he spoke to Phillies manager Rob Thomson last week, they agreed there is no reason to push things with Opening Day on March 28.

“When I talked to Thomper, when I told him I was a little sore, he was like, ‘All right, we’ll just throw you down a little bit and pick you back up next week. We’ll see where you’re at,’” Harper said. “I said, ‘If it’s back field or big field, I’ll get my at-bats.'”