By Sam Bush

Matt Gelb of The Athletic reports Bryce Harper (elbow) is preparing to play first base this season for the Phils.

Harper’s decision doesn’t impact his potential return timeline from Tommy John surgery, but it might expedite his return to playing the field at some point this season.

The Phillies find themselves with a massive hole in the wake of injuries to Rhys Hoskins and Darick Hall.

The 30-year-old Harper has already resumed hitting and is targeting a late-May or early-June return to Philadelphia’s lineup as a designated hitter.

Harper has logged one third of an inning at first base in his MLB career. He’s otherwise exclusively been an outfielder as a professional. There’s risk of growing pains with any player moving to a position with which he’s completely unfamiliar, though it’s hardly uncommon for outfielders to factor in at first base on occasion. Harper has been taking some ground balls — without making overhand throws — in recent days, Gelb notes.

Regardless of how well he takes to drills, he’ll return to the lineup as a DH before he’s cleared to defend. If he’s able to factor in at first base closer to the All-Star Break (before he’d theoretically be able to play the outfield), that’d afford the front office and coaching staff some flexibility. While Harper’s at DH, the Phils are set to pencil in Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos into the corner outfield positions regularly. Barring a breakout from Clemens, they’d perhaps have perhaps been looking to the trade market for first base help.

If Harper covers that position and vacates the DH spot for one of Schwarber or Castellanos, the Phils could broaden their search for outfield upgrades. Vacating DH would also allow manager Rob Thomson more freedom to rotate regulars through the position as quasi-rest days. It’s to be determined whether Harper will find success in that role, but the seven-time All-Star is going to try to expand his defensive flexibility over the coming weeks.

About admin

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply