7:48 PM ET
ESPN News Service
Allentown, PA – Bryce Harper Two The next big swing looks ready to join the Phillies for the pennant game.
Harper homered to right midfield in his first at-bat, then went for a 3-pointer on the opposite side in the eighth inning Tuesday night, AAA in Philadelphia The team began his rehab mission with a broken left thumb.
Harper was the designated hitter and was No. 2 in the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ lineup to start the six-game series with Gwinnett. The fifth pitch he saw from Atlanta Braves forward Jared Schuster drilled high into the wall at Coca-Cola Park in front of a crowd declared sold out to 10,100 fans.
“I think any time you go there, you can put the bat on the ball, play well, watch the field, compete at a high level, it’s always good Yes,” Harper said.
He pitted Schuster in the second bat, but amidst the boos of the crowd, Harper wanted another slam. Harper was then caught stealing. He stopped on his third plate and walked and scored again in the seventh to give Lehigh Valley a 10-5 lead over Gwinnett. ‘ leading, tweeted: “Phillies rookie Bryce Harper swept the Strip’s lead 3-1. Granted, he looks like someone to watch in the future.”
Get up before Harper’s fifth appearance and the scoreboard reads: “1-2 Bryce Bomb today.” Do two.
Harper, who won his second NL MVP award last year, has not played for the Phillies since breaking his left thumb on June 25. He is expected to play Saturday in the Lehigh Valley and could return to the Philadelphia lineup on Monday, when the playoff-contending Phillies start the series in Arizona.
But with two home runs in his first rehab game, why wait until Monday to add him to a team that desperately needs him right now?
“Tonight was great, right? But at the same time, I need batsmen, I need to be able to see the pitch, different people, different angles, know my How would my body react, what would my thumb look like,” Harper said.
The 29-year-old Harper, who signed a $330 million, 13-year deal with the Phillies in 2019, hit 15 home runs , 48 RBIs and 0.985 OPS for a score of 0.318. Harper had already relinquished his spot on the right field earlier this season with a small torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow. He last played on April 16 in Miami.
When asked if he could play the right field in September, Harper simply said, “No.”
The Phillies continued their intense game in the NL wild card game with a 7-6 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night. After the win, Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said staff would discuss his return date with Harper and did not rule out Friday.
“Bring him up. He didn’t need more games,” Philadelphia second baseman Jean Segura said after the win. “What’s he doing down there? He’s ready. Hope he’ll come back soon. If he hits two home runs, bring him up.”
Ha Poe was a huge success for fans who turned to get a glimpse of one of baseball’s most popular players with season-high numbers.
For the past two days, the IronPigs merchandise store and ticketing phone lines have been buzzing in anticipation of his arrival. Will he play? Will the jersey be discounted? What time does the city gate open? “I’ve never seen hundreds of people standing there at 5:12,” said a cashier looking out the team store window.
Merchandising Director Mike Luciano faced When Harper decided to change his uniform number while playing for his minor league, he got stuck early on. While appealing, Harper didn’t want to distract IronPigs and let backup Jonathan Hennigan keep his No. 3 while the slugger improved his No. 1 to No. 4.
“I ordered a lot of 3s,” Luciano said. “Luckily, the 4s are in.”
Harper T-shirts are really hot in the media. About 90 minutes before the first pitch, about 150 Harper shirts were still as warm as baseball field hot dogs as they quickly moved from print to merchandise store shelves. The blue No. 4 shirt sells for $28 and the limited-quantity custom jersey sells for $110, and sales are higher than the usual bestsellers, Luciano says, “anything with bacon in it.”
“You put bacon strips on the hat and people love it,” Luciano said.
Chris Philport of Allentown bought two tickets to the game this morning and grabbed a Harper T-shirt in the store. He usually competes in about 12 IronPigs games a year and only needs to grab a seat on Tuesday nights.
. “We came in and saw all the cameras. It’s going to be crazy tonight. You don’t usually see people lining up when there’s no giveaway so early before the game.”
Harper didn’t hit the field, but that didn’t stop fans from lingering on the railings near the IronPigs dugout in hopes of seeing the two-time NL MVP. Television stations broadcast live remotes, and news boxes filled with media typically used to cover the Phillies were broadcast from homes on the Turnpike at Citizens Bank Park.
Two hours before the gates opened, there were only 80 tickets left, mostly under the right field line. The stadium – which has hosted similar warm-ups for Pedro Martinez and Chase Utley in the past – was packed on a night out for the dogs. Yep, Harper skipped the bacon-themed gear for an IronMutts jersey in honor of a night dedicated to the efforts of the region to adopt dogs.
Oh, 195 dogs on the field – 44 adopted, some mongrels probably thanks to Harper’s new home cameo.
Associated Press Media contributed to this report.