PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Phillies slugger Bryce Harper was saluted with a 25-second standing ovation prior to his first at-bat in the game against the Boston Red Sox.
Harper was playing his first game in Philadelphia since he had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in the offseason.
Under baseball’s new rules, players need to be in the batter’s box and ready to hit with eight seconds remaining on the pitch clock or they will be charged with a strike. Exceptions to the rule must be granted by Major League Baseball, and the Phillies requested extra time for Harper’s return.
Phillies fans gave Harper a loud ovation and chanted “M-V-P! M-V-P!” before Harper’s at-bat. He went on to strike out swinging against Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale.
Harper was playing his third game since returning from surgery. He last played in Philadelphia on Nov. 3, when Philadelphia lost 3-2 to Houston in Game 5 of the World Series. Two nights later, the Astros won the series in Houston.
The 30-year-old Harper is in the fifth season of a 13-year, $330 million deal he signed with the Phillies prior to the 2019 season.
Harper entered with three hits in seven at-bats this season. The two-time NL MVP reached base in all five plate appearances in Philadelphia’s 10-6 loss at the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Harper is going to continue at designated hitter while building up throwing strength in his right arm. When he is ready, Harper is expected to shift from the outfield to first base, a position he has never played at the major league level. He has been working regularly with Philadelphia coach Bobby Dickerson on first-base mechanics.