Outfielder Bryce Harper inked a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies on Thursday, more than two weeks after pitchers and catchers reported to Clearwater, Florida. Despite the late start, Harper says he will be ready for Opening Day, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports.
The Phillies have played 11 Grapefruit League games thus far, including split-squad games. They have 22 more. Harper says he only needs 45 plate appearances to get in regular season shape. Manager Gabe Kapler said Harper will likely make his spring debut on Saturday as a DH, per Zolecki. The Phillies open the season at home on March 28 with a 3:05 PM EDT game against the defending NL East champion Braves.
Harper said, “I’m going to take my time. I don’t want to rush. I’ll be ready for Opening Day, March 28. Just trying to take it day by day, and once I can get into a game, I will. The swing’s my swing, so I’ll try to see as much live BP as I can this week to get ready for games and stuff like that. I just want to see pitches. I just want to see that and see rotation, feel what it feels like to be in my cleats today and be on the grass and just be out there.”
Last season, Harper hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 home runs, 100 RBI, 103 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances. He also led the league with 130 walks. Phillies outfielders last year combined to hit .241/.326/.428.