Dombrowski talks Harper playing first base, Deadline

June 29th, 2023

CHICAGO -- President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski can thank the Phillies’ rotation for changing the team’s fortunes this month.

“Any time I’ve been with a club that gets on a roll, it’s their starting pitchers pitching well,” Dombrowski said Wednesday at Wrigley Field. “We’re in a playoff hunt. We’re legitimately in a playoff hunt. We’re playing much better baseball.”

The Phillies reach the halfway point of their 162-game schedule on Friday. The Aug. 1 Trade Deadline is 34 days away. Last summer, Dombrowski and Co. acquired Noah Syndergaard, Brandon Marsh, David Robertson and Edmundo Sosa. This season’s team has its own concerns, but first base does not seem to be one of them.

Dombrowski said he believes can play first base and that he will play there sometime after the All-Star break. At the very least, the Phillies will know if he can play there before the Trade Deadline.

“He’s not far away,” Dombrowski said.

Harper took full-fledged infield practice for the first time on Wednesday. If he can play first base, that opens up the DH spot. That would be big because it would give manager Rob Thomson more options with the lineup.

It certainly would give more time at DH. He has struggled this season in left field.

“It would be nice to get Schwarbs off his feet a little bit,” Dombrowski said. “Right now, the way we’re shaped up … I know people say to do things -- I read it -- but you have to do your own [thing]. I don’t really know what you do when you think somebody is going to play first base. So you, say, get a first baseman, but what happens if [Harper's] playing there in three weeks? So it’s like, OK, we’ve got to wait it out. Sometimes patience isn’t a virtue, but sometimes you just have to do it.”

Phillies first basemen ranked 20th in the Majors with a .712 OPS entering Wednesday. Phillies third basemen ranked 27th with a .620 OPS. If Schwarber sees more time at DH, Philadelphia could pursue a bat in left field to help boost the offense.

“The offense has been better, but I still think there’s a lot of room for growth there, too,” Dombrowski said. “So I think as we continue to play out the year, that that’s the part where we can continue to get better and better.

“I feel good about our offensive performers. I don’t feel great about our offensive numbers so far. I feel like we have the capability of doing more.”