Schwarber makes most of cameo in left as Phillies roll

Philadelphia blasts four home runs to back up Wheeler's bounceback gem

June 23rd, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- took some extra time to greet the fans when he trotted out to left field before the start of Saturday afternoon's game.

He took a few seconds to soak it all in before starting to play catch -- and who could blame him? It was the first time he'd played the field at Citizens Bank Park this season.

Making just his second start of the year in left field (and first at home), Schwarber helped set the tone as the Phillies' offense erupted in a 12-1 win over the D-backs.

“It was good to see him back out there,” said first baseman Bryce Harper, who went 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. “He loves to be out there and playing the field, but he's also done such a good job in that DH role for us.”

Schwarber reached base four times and scored three runs. He hit multiple doubles for the first time since June 8, 2022. He posted just the second multi-extra-base-hit game by any Phillies left fielder or center fielder this season. He registered his second fastest sprint speed of the season while going first to third on Trea Turner's first-inning single.

“Obviously, when he goes up there he wants to jump on a guy -- we all know that,” Harper said. “But he does a really good job of seeing a lot of pitches, getting on base, walking and taking his chances when he knows he can."

After crossing the plate on Harper's two-run homer into the second deck in right field, Schwarber stood and chatted with Alec Bohm as the duo waited for Harper to finish his lengthy 29-second home run trot. Moments later, Bohm teed off on D-backs starter Tommy Henry to go back to back with Harper.

Nick Castellanos crushed a third Philadelphia home run when he hit a two-run shot in the fifth. He then added a two-run single in the sixth as part of a five-RBI day. The five RBIs matched his most in any game since joining the Phillies (also June 2, 2023, vs. the Nationals).

“Big day for him and Harper,” manager Rob Thomson said. “Everybody in the lineup, including the guys we put in late, got on base. It was a great offensive day, it really was.”

David Dahl, who replaced Castellanos in the eighth just to get him off his feet, homered off D-backs catcher Tucker Barnhart to cap the Phillies' four-homer, 14-hit day.

That was all more than enough support for Zack Wheeler, who bounced back from the worst start of his career with seven dominant innings. He allowed just one run off two hits and struck out eight while not allowing a baserunner until the fifth.

"I felt a lot better than last time out,” Wheeler said. “I worked on a few things between starts to slow my rhythm down there, so I felt a lot better today. Defense played well and we scored a lot of runs, so that always makes it a little easier on us as a starter."

Wheeler was so efficient that the only out Schwarber had to record came on the final play of the game.

Though Schwarber isn’t going to start getting regular reps in left field, Thomson didn’t rule out the possibility that he gets a little more run in left moving forward. Starting Schwarber in left allows the Phillies to get some of their regulars a day at DH – something that could be particularly beneficial once catcher J.T. Realmuto returns from knee surgery next month.

“Maybe a little bit more,” Thomson said. “It just depends on the other guys and how they're holding up. We're going through a lot of aches and pains -- just like everybody in baseball right now -- so we've got to make sure we keep these guys healthy.”

The Phillies went through a similar situation last season with Harper, who was limited to DH duties for two and a half months after returning from Tommy John surgery. Part of the reason Harper learned first base was to free up that DH role, because he knows how important it is for other guys to get a day here and there down the stretch.

But he also knows how difficult the DH job is -- and how much Schwarber has thrived in that spot.

“Obviously, once J.T. gets back or Bohmer getting a day or Nick having a day, it's always good to be able to kind of rotate that spot,” Harper said. “But [Schwarber] does such a good job in the [DH] spot, and it's a really hard thing to do.

“So we found someone who can actually do it well on our team and that’s huge for us.”