LOS ANGELES — Bryce Harper’s long-awaited return to the Phillies lineup didn’t yield the results he or the team had hoped for on day one, but it’s about the long game, not the one at Dodger Stadium when the offense was shut out. down by left-handed nail and a center fielder was needed to score the final game due to a late nervous breakdown.
Harper went 0-for-4 and was defeated three times in his first match since undergoing Tommy John surgery 160 days earlier. It was a quick comeback that didn’t include a minor league rehab stint and Harper warned that he might not be the same for quite some time.
He saw 16 tones in his four plate appearances and swung at seven of them. He went after the first pitch all four times.
“I feel like my timing is good, but it’s the choice of court for me right now,” Harper said after the Phillies’ 13-1 loss. “I had some good pitches to hit on my second putt and last too, slider and heater I should have swung better on it. Wash that up today and come back tomorrow. My swing feels good. I just gotta get going and I understand it’s going to take me a minute.” “
Harper felt fine physically after the game and will return to the lineup on Wednesday afternoon. He will play every day because the DH and Phillies schedule is conducive to that kind of workload because they are out four of the next 15 days.
Taking on Julio Urias, one of the best left-handers in baseball, is no easy task for a player on a hot streak, let alone one who hasn’t played in a straight game in six months. But Harper wasn’t interested in waiting another day. He was keen to come back, tough game or not.
“I don’t have very good numbers against him and he threw the ball really well tonight,” Harper said of Urias, who struck out 10 over seven innings and allowed only one hit, a solo to Trea Turner.
“I thought his fastball was a milestone from what he had been in the couple’s recent starts. Those are the big leagues, right? Facing guys like that.”
This was Harper’s first experience with the pitch clock. The Phillies have used it in their simulated game of batters against Ranger Suarez and Nick Nelson and pitchers from their farm system, but it’s quite another matter under the lights at Dodger Stadium against a stacked playoff-bound team.
“I think the most important thing is that our entire lives, we’ve been asked to slow down the game,” he said. “It would be an adjustment for me but that’s what it is at this stage. It’s going to be a faster game.”
The Phillies went 26-5 in the first two games of the series and 2-3 on a tough road trip through Houston and Los Angeles. They could trip . 500 on Wednesday, which is a score most teams would take against the Astros and Dodgers.
While the Dodgers scored their final five runs off Junior Marty and outfielder Cody Clemens, they also ran into some important pitchers in the Phillies staff. Matt Strahm and Tejuan Walker had the worst starts of the season on Monday and Tuesday. Gregory Soto allowed four runs while striking out two runs after allowing only one hit out of the 36 batters he faced. Craig Kimberell also struggled on Monday.
“It’s not big at all,” said coach Rob Thompson of the talent gap between the two clubs. “I thought we were right about it (4-1 down) until the seventh, and Soto had a bad night. He was really good. Marty, it’s the first time he’s back up and we were trying to get past without using anyone else. I think it was Exhausted by the fumes.
“We just have to come back tomorrow and split the road trip.”
Thompson liked the bat speed he saw from Harper but conceded that recognition of broken balls would not come instantly.
He said, “You just have to fight through it and that’s what he does.” “It shouldn’t take him long before he gets up to speed. He’s had 45 or 50 at-bats in the simulation so I don’t expect it to take long.”
Harper struggled last season when he returned from thumb surgery. He missed two months, came back and hit .227 with a .676 OPS the rest of the way until he was again in his MVP form in the playoffs.
It’s a work in progress, but there’s no denying that Harper’s presence makes a huge impact on the Phillies lineup. His bat essentially replaces the bat of Clemens or Jake Cave, who were batting at the bottom of the order. The walks will come, the hits will come, the housemates will come, and Tuesday night could end up being the ugliest Phillies game of the season.
“You’ll never be excited about what just happened,” Harper said. “You don’t want that to happen. I want the results to be better. Granted, I’m excited to be back. After six months of hard work and effort and to be able to come back today, I was really excited. Now we’re about to go into a season, playing as many as we can.” of matches.
“Just gotta keep going, keep plugging in. You’re going to recover and get better, it’s just going to take a while.”