Buchanan clears air with Harper over 2015 regret

February 26th, 2024

FT. MYERS, Fla. -- had something on his mind when he got to Phillies camp this month:

He wanted to apologize to .

Buchanan, 34, had the opportunity because he's back with the organization where everything started more than a decade ago. The Phillies selected him in the seventh round of the 2010 Draft.

He made 35 starts in 2014 and '15. He spent 2016 in Triple-A before pitching the past seven years in Japan and South Korea. He hopes to bookend his baseball life in Philly, so he signed a Minor League contract to provide starting pitching depth.

“It was humbling,” Buchanan said about his first run with the Phils. “It solidified how hard it is to pitch here, and how fast this game can speed up on you. It gave me a chance to find myself as a pitcher, as a man and really come to grips with who I am. That’s what happened the last seven years.”

Buchanan allowed two runs in two innings in Monday’s 7-6 loss to Boston at JetBlue Park. He talked afterward about his performance, but also about how much has changed since he last pitched in the big leagues. In the Phillies clubhouse, he has faced only three teammates: Zack Wheeler, J.T. Realmuto and Harper, who homered against him in the first inning in a Sept. 15, 2015, game at Citizens Bank Park.

Buchanan remembers the Harper homer well.

“I had two regrets in my entire big-league career,” he said. “That at-bat was one of them.”

Not because Harper homered. But because Buchanan’s first pitch sailed behind Harper’s back.

Harper stared back at Buchanan, who missed with the next pitch to fall behind 2-0. Buchanan then tried to drop a curveball over the plate for a strike, but Harper smashed a home run to center field instead.

“I deserved that,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan had not forgotten that sequence. It weighed on him. He said he told Harper it should not have happened.

Buchanan did not want to get into details, but it's safe to say the first pitch was not his idea.

“When I brought it up and I was talking about the at-bat, he was like, ‘Yeah, 2-0 curveball, homer,’” Buchanan said. “I was like, ‘Yeah.’ We talked about it. When the Phillies called, I was even more excited to talk to him.

"I want to get back to the big leagues because I want to talk to Bryce and talk about that at-bat. Whoever I was playing with, that was going to be a conversation. The fact that I got the chance to do it in the same clubhouse was good.”

The last time Buchanan pitched for the Phillies, it was the final game of the 2015 season. That lineup included Freddy Galvis, Aaron Altherr, Maikel Franco, Darin Ruf, Jeff Francoeur, Andres Blanco, Erik Kratz and Cameron Rupp.

Buchanan is the last man standing from that team, just like he is the last man standing from the Phillies’ 2010 Draft class.

“It’s surreal,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan allowed four hits and one walk on Monday. He struck out two. He wasn’t his best, but he will get more opportunities.

“Maybe first time back, some jitters,” he said. “It felt good to be back out there. It was a lot of fun just to be back in that environment.”