CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Bryce Harper sat out the Philadelphia Phillies’ game against the Houston Astros on Saturday, saying he’s “a little sore” one day after getting hit by a pitch and bruising his right ankle.
Manager Gabe Kapler said he had no concerns about Harper being ready for opening day on March 28 against Atlanta. Harper, who recently signed a record $330 million, 13-year contract, agreed with his manager.
“As of right now, no,” Harper said. “If I felt that way then I’d probably tell you guys. I really don’t.”
X-rays were negative and Harper was listed as day to day.
“Bryce played catch today, he also did some agility work in the weight room,” Kapler said after a 13-5 loss to the Astros. “He looked good. We’re going to evaluate him in the morning and see how he’s doing. As of right now we don’t have a firm plan for tomorrow yet.”
Harper was struck by a 96 mph fastball from Toronto rookie Trent Thornton on Friday.
“Felt good today coming in,” Harper said. “I was a little sore. Just trying to keep the swelling out, things like that.”
When asked about dodging a major injury, Harper replied “I wish I would have dodged the ball.”
The slugging outfielder clutched his ankle and stayed on the ground for a few moments after getting hit. Harper was checked by a trainer, limped toward the dugout with assistance and hobbled toward the clubhouse.
“The first time I really got hit on the ankle bone,” Harper said.
He’s 0 for 5 in 10 plate appearances in four exhibition games.
“It’s definitely important to get back out there and get the at-bats that I need,” Harper said. “But also being smart. I’d rather be healthy than get my at-bats.”
AARON IN ACTION
Phillies opening day starter Aaron Nola lasted just 2 2/3 innings Saturday. The right-hander allowed two runs, four hits, three walks and struck out two during a 64-pitch outing. “I felt good,” Nola said. “I was getting them to two strikes but their approach was pretty good with two strikes. They got themselves back in counts. I was missing just a little bit.” Nola will make his next start in a minor league game and throw 90 pitches.
Kapler reflected on his Twitter site about a fan who told him of Philadelphia’s deal with Harper. Matt Vecere was en route to Kenya for an UN Environment Assembly and was killed in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. Vecere was in the stands behind the Phillies’ dugout and was one of the first to relay the Harper reports.
Kapler urged the Phillies and the broader baseball community to support causes Vecere cared about that included the environment, civil rights, social and environmental justice and advocacy for the less fortunate.
“Baseball brings people together,” Kapler wrote. “But Matt strove for bigger causes than what we do every day. As he loved the Phillies, I hope the community can return that love.”
OF Odubel Herrera (hamstring) played in his first game and went 1 for 2 with a walk as the designated hitter. The hit was an opposite-field double off the wall in left. “That was a big test for me so I feel like I took a big step forward,” Herrera said.
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