There were some more Phirsts this week for the Philadelphia Phillies, including two regulars making their first appearances in the field and at the plate, but most important to many, the 96 MPH Clearwater ouchie heard all the way in Philly.
The Wrong Kind of Harper Hit:
Instead of Bryce Harper‘s first hit of the spring – which has yet to happen btw – it was a 96 MPH pitch from Toronto Blue Jays RHP Trent Thornton that hit Harper in an unprotected area of his ankle on Friday, that made the biggest noise this week.
As bad as it looked and sounded – I am not into sharing videos of injuries so you will have to go elsewhere for that – Harper came out of it only sore. He had an off-day Saturday, and was back in the Green clad lineup for St. Patrick’s Day, as a DH. He will not make the next road trip, but could play in some MiLB games to get some more ABs.
“I wish I would’ve dodged the baseball,” Harper said on Saturday. “Definitely could have been a lot worse, but felt good today coming in, was a little sore.”
Phirsts in the Field:
Two every day players in Cesar Hernandez, and Odubel Herrera made their initial appearances at the plate, and one of them in the field as well.
Cesar was first on Thursday, going 1-3, and playing four innings at 2B. Both manager Gabe Kapler, and Hernandez said later that it should be no problem to be ready for the start of the season.
“Oh yeah, for sure,” Hernandez said. “I feel great, happy to get back. My finger, my leg is good, so that’s definitely good. I was a little bit lost at the plate. I am trying to get my timing back. I need a couple more games to get to that point.”
“I thought he looked like Cesar really, maybe a version of Cesar that just needs to get his timing and rhythm down, but overall just fine,” Kapler said. “Came out of the game healthy.”
El Torito got his chance on Saturday, but only as a DH. He would have a 2B, and a BB in three PAs.
“It felt pretty good and I felt happy to be back on the field with my teammates, doing my thing,” Herrera said. “I’ve been working in the cage, I’ve been on the Minor League side facing some pitchers too. I feel that I’ve been doing my work. I don’t feel like I’m where I want to be, but I’m not concerned at all.”
Per Kapler they hope to get him into the regular line-up and in the field “sooner than later.”
Last P for his Phirst Start:
Nick Pivetta was the last of the possible starting rotation to start a game, though it was his third appearance. That occurred on Friday, and he made the most of it.
Hitting 99 MPH on the “hot” Spectrum Field gun, he allowed one run, on three hits, and two Ks in 5In of work. That lone run was a HR to our old friend Freddy Galvis.
“Just throwing fastballs the way I’ve always thrown them,” Pivetta said. “It’s hot out. It’s nice. Body is in good shape. That’s all I can say.”
“Pivetta was excellent,” Kapler said. “It’s important to see where he’s come from last season. And he certainly is a high-velocity guy, but when he comes out with 95-99, it’s incredibly encouraging. We’ve asked him to come out and step on the gas pedal early in the game. He did just that.”
After the Phillies optioned IF Mitch Walding to AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, there are 48 players left in Big League camp. Expect that to change fast and furiously with only 10 days left until Opening Day.
I will also give my humble opinions on the new rules set to take effect in 2020.