You cannot get Bryce Harper out of the lineup.
Knee goes into the wall? No problem. Batting average nears the Mendoza line? Uh, no problem?
Harper was in the starting lineup Wednesday, going 1-for-4 with a strikeout in Philadelphia’s 5-2 loss to Milwaukee, a day after he banged his left knee into the wall on a sliding catch. Harper, who signed a $330 million, 13-year contract with the Phillies as a free agent, has been slumping and is down to .220 with 57 strikeouts, seven homers and 25 RBIs in 42 games. He’s played in every one and has said his goal is to suit up for all 162.
The Phillies hope they don’t have this Harper for all 162. Harper told manager Gabe Kapler there was “minimal swelling” in the knee.
“There was nothing that causes any of us any concern about putting him out there today,” Kapler said.
Harper came up limping against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night on a sliding catch on a foul ball to right field in the sixth inning. Harper made an almost identical catch to end the inning. He received a standing ovation only to get booed after striking out again in the eighth.
Wednesday, bum knee and all, Harper tried something new in the first inning, as identified by MLB.com: no batting gloves. By his second at-bat, they were back on, and knocked a double, his only hit of the game.
He’s going to any length to get going — except sitting on the bench for a day or two.
“I’m not sure a day off is going to work for me mentally or physically or anything like that,” Harper said Tuesday. “I just need to keep grinding, keep trying to get through it.”
Kapler said Harper was “healthy, confident and wants to play” so he kept him hitting third for a team that, despite Harper’s struggles, is 24-18 and first in the NL East.
“I don’t have a tangible reason why we shouldn’t play him,” Kapler said. “We think he gives us our best chance to win tonight. We think he will be positively impacted by being in tonight’s lineup. We’ll consider it on a day-to-day basis. He and I will have those conversations.”
He does lead baseball with 33 walks, has an .801 OPS and has made several game-saving plays in right for the Phillies.
Source: Read Full Article