By: Carolyn Walker
Philadelphia’s new pride and joy made his debut down at Spring Training yesterday drawing big cheers from the Phillies fans. During the game, Harper had a pair of walks and faced a pretty surprising defensive strategy.
Harper went up to bat two times against the Toronto Blue Jays. To everyone’s surprise, the defense shifted to a four-man outfield. Confused? So was I. The Blue Jays shortstop moved on the other side of second base giving a left-handed Harper a wide-open left side of the infield.
Harper, nor anyone else, has seen such a defensive strategy and hopes teams don’t do that to him often. He exclaims, “If they start playing ball like that, it’s definitely different.” I personally don’t have any doubts he’s going to kill it no matter what the defense does.
Great advice was given to the new Philly slugger by the Phillies manager, Gabe Kapler, “Hit a lot of homers, drive the ball like you’re capable of, do exactly what you always do, be Bryce Harper.”
Philly fans went wild as “In West Philadelphia born and raised…” blared from the stadium’s speakers in Clearwater and Harper walked out onto the field. Talk about making a statement. Well played Harper, well played.
Along with the killer song choice, Harper came out sporting No. 3, black under his eyes and a white armband that had “HEART” written around it.
Harper told the press, “The ovation they gave me, I’m very humbled, very blessed to be able to get out there and play in front of a fan base like that.” He also mentioned that he’ll most likely be using a different walk-up song during regular season.
“It was fun to be out there, get some dirt on my cleats, get in the batter’s box and compete. That’s what I love to do,” Harper said. “I was able to see some pitches, take two swings early in the count, see some splits from a good pitcher, really happy where I was today.”
The game ended with Blue Jays 8 and Phillies 7.
What do you think of Harper joining the Philly family?