Bryce Harper drew big cheers, a pair of walks and an unusual defense Saturday in his spring training debut for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Both times the slugger with the biggest contract in baseball came to the plate, the Toronto Blue Jays shifted to a four-man outfield, moved the shortstop on the other side of second base and gave the left-handed-hitting Harper a wide-open left side of the infield.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale
“I’ve never seen that. That’s intense,” Harper said, adding he hopes teams don’t do that to him often. “If they start playing ball like that, it’s definitely different.”
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler didn’t want to discuss shift strategy but shared his advice for Harper.
“Hit a lot of homers, drive the ball like you’re capable of, do exactly what you always do, be Bryce Harper,” said Kapler, who is known for using many shifts.
Wearing No. 3 on his uniform, eye black under his eyes and a white armband with “HEART” written in red letters around it, Harper dug into the batter’s box as “In West Philadelphia born and raised …” blared from the stadium’s speakers.
“The ovation they gave me, I’m very humbled, very blessed to be able to get out there and play in front of a fan base like that,” Harper said, adding he’ll probably use a different walk-up song once the season starts. “Selling out a spring training game is pretty incredible to see. Just goes to show how great a fan base Philly is.”
Batting third as the designated hitter, Harper didn’t go deep but jogged around the bases after Rhys Hoskins blasted a two-run homer off Jays right-hander Matt Shoemaker on the first pitch after the first walk in the first.
“Rhys is a special player,” Harper said. “Nice to see him jump on the first pitch and go deep. Having Rhys hit behind me, I’m very excited about it.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china
Harper took a mighty swing and missed on the first pitch he saw, and fouled off the first pitch he faced in the third. He looked at eight balls outside the strike zone, including a few close ones. Although he is known for hitting home runs, Harper also is a patient hitter who knows how to work the count. He has a .388 career on-base percentage and had a career-best 130 walks last season.