Bryce Harper’s debut with the Philadelphia Phillies started off just as he imagined when he inked his name to a $330 million contract in the offseason.
In the top of the first inning against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park, Harper received a standing ovation as he trotted to right field and he bowed to the crowd in response.
In the bottom of the first, Harper received another standing ovation as he approached the plate for his first at-bat.
But then reality set in and Harper found out the fans of Philadelphia have a rough reputation for a reason.
Harper grounded out in that first at-bat and then struck out in his next two at-bats, and the Philly faithful let him hear it.
MLB’s biggest free agent signee was booed.
It wasn’t the typical Philadelphia sports fan booing that drowns out any other noise — it was just a small contingent. But it’s noteworthy nonetheless.
Going hitless happens in baseball, but most didn’t expect Harper to go 0 for 3 in his Phillies debut, especially considering who was on the mound.
Braves pitcher Julio Teheran got Harper out all three times despite the incredible success Harper has had in the past against him. Coming into the game, Harper had more home runs and a higher OPS vs. Teheran than against any other pitcher.
Harper finished with an intentional walk in the seventh inning. Just as the fans booed Harper for striking out, they also booed the Braves when they intentionally walked Harper.
In addition to Harper, the Phillies made a number of additions this offseason, including another former MVP in Andrew McCutchen.
McCutchen hit a leadoff home run to pace the Phillies in their 10-4 victory.
After the game, manager Gabe Kapler said the team is more than just one player.
“The one thing we saw today is that no one player has to carry this team,” Kapler said, according to ESPN. “Bryce doesn’t have to come out and hit two home runs every night. He can hit right in the middle of the lineup, and he’s gonna win a lot of games for us with home runs and doubles — but he doesn’t have to do it every night.
“Because one night it’s gonna be Rhys (Hoskins) and Maikel Franco and Andrew McCutchen, and the next it’s gonna be (Jean) Segura, Harper and (J.T.) Realmuto. And that speaks to the depth of our lineup.”
Harper didn’t sweat his hitless debut and looked at the bigger picture in terms of his 13-year contract.
“I guess I got 12 more,” he said of his first Opening Day with the Phillies.
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