We don’t do a post every time a player launches their first major league home run, but Bryce Harper is not your regular rookie.
Harper connected for his first career home run in the bottom of the third inning tonight as part of an 8-5 win over the Padres. It was a long solo blast off right-hander Tim Stauffer which landed on the grassy batter’s eye in straight-away center field at Nationals Park.
The 19-year-old outfielder sprinted around the bases before being congratulated by teammates and coaches in the dugout, but he eventually came out to give a curtain call to the Nationals’ faithful. We may soon find out if the Padres have a designated enforcer of “old school” on their pitching staff.
Harper hit the home run in his 54th at-bat in the big leagues. If things play out like the Nationals hope, this is just the beginning of him terrorizing major league pitching.
Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.
Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”
Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.
The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.