Bryce Harper puts on encouraging batting practice show in Philadelphia

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA — Bryce Harper went deep for the Phillies in their home opener. Sort of.

Harper hit batting practice home runs – one more encouraging sign for the National League champions who are struggling in the early going that the two-time NL MVP could return to the lineup much earlier than expected, at the very least well before the All-Star break.

The Phillies have Harper on the 10-day injured list as he recovers from offseason reconstructive elbow surgery rather than the 60-day IL, which would have ruled him out until May 29.

Manager Rob Thomson watched the NLCS MVP take his cuts at Citizens Bank Park about 4 1/2 hours before the Phillies played the Cincinnati Reds. Harper took on-field batting practice earlier this week at Yankee Stadium for the first time since Tommy John surgery last fall.

“It’s not bothering him to swing the bat,” Thomson said.

Thomson said there was still no timeline on Harper’s return and the biggest concern was sliding. There was also no timetable on when Harper could resume throwing.

“First things first, we’ve got to get him to slide, and then get him into games,” Thomson said. “Then we’ll figure the other part out.”

Harper is starting the fifth season of a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies. He hasn’t played right field since last April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection on his elbow in May and became a full-time designated hitter to finish the season.

The Phillies entered at 1-5 and have been riddled by injuries. Notably, first baseman Rhys Hoskins is on the on the 60-day IL with torn left ACL sustained in spring training; his recovery time is estimated at 7-9 months.

Hoskins was replaced by at first by Darick Hall – who was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right thumb sprain. He was replaced in the home-opener lineup by Kody Clemens, son of former pitcher Roger Clemens.

The 26-year-old Clemens, acquired in an offseason deal with the Tigers, hit .319 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in 47 at-bats during spring training.

Thomson said Clemens would get the bulk of the starts against right-handers.

“He had a great spring training and he would have made our club except it just didn’t fit,” Thomson said. “He had that type of spring training. I have complete confidence in him, for sure.”

Thomson said the Phillies would “figure it out” against lefties. He didn’t rule out moving third baseman Alec Bohm to first against tough left-handers.

New bill to build Athletics stadium on Las Vegas Strip caps Nevada’s cost at $380 million

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A bill introduced in the Nevada Legislature would give the Oakland Athletics up to $380 million for a potential 30,000 seat, $1.5 billion retractable roof stadium on the Las Vegas Strip.

The bulk of the public funding would come from $180 million in transferable tax credits from the state and $120 million in county bonds, which can vary based on interest rate returns. Clark County also would contribute $25 million in credit toward infrastructure costs.

The A’s have been looking for a home to replace Oakland Coliseum, where the team has played since arriving from Kansas City for the 1968 season. The team had sought to build a stadium in Fremont, San Jose and finally the Oakland waterfront, all ideas that never materialized.

The plan in the Nevada Legislature won’t directly raise taxes. It can move forward with a simply majority vote in the Senate and Assembly. Lawmakers have a little more than a week to consider the proposal before they adjourn June 5, though it could be voted on if a special session is called.

The Athletics have agreed to use land on the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, where the Tropicana Las Vegas casino resort sits. Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao has said he is disappointed the team didn’t negotiate with Oakland as a “true partner.”

Las Vegas would be the fourth home for a franchise that started as the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901-54. It would become the smallest TV market in Major League Baseball and the smallest market to be home to three major professional sports franchises.

The team and Las Vegas are hoping to draw from the nearly 40 million tourists who visit the city annually to help fill the stadium. The 30,000-seat capacity would make it the smallest MLB stadium.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said a vote on the Oakland Athletics’ prospective move to Las Vegas could take place when owners meet June 13-15 in New York.

The plan faces an uncertain path in the Nevada Legislature. Democratic leaders said financing bills, including for the A’s, may not go through if Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoes the five budget bills, which he has threatened to do as many of his priorities have stalled or faded in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Under the bill, the Clark County Board of Commissioners would create a homelessness prevention and assistance fund along the stadium’s area in coordination with MLB and the Nevada Resort Association. There, they would manage funds for services, including emergency rental and utility assistance, job training, rehabilitation and counseling services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The lease agreement with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority would be up for renewal after 30 years.

Nevada’s legislative leadership is reviewing the proposal, Democratic state Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager said in a statement.

“No commitment will be made until we have both evaluated the official proposal and received input from interested parties, including impacted community members,” Yeager said.