Evan Gattis is off the disabled list after missing the past four weeks with a bulging disk in his back and to make room for his return the Braves demoted fill-in catcher Christian Bethancourt to Triple-A.
Bethancourt got the bulk of the starts behind the plate with Gattis out, but the 22-year-old rookie hit just .240 with zero homers and a .543 OPS in 13 games along with a 14/2 K/BB ratio that suggests he was overmatched. His numbers in the minors have been similarly underwhelming of late.
Gattis, meanwhile, was having an All-Star caliber first half before the injury and dating back to his debut as a 26-year-old rookie last season he’s smacked 37 homers in 168 career games while posting an .821 OPS.
Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.
Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.
Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”
Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.
Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.