Bryce hit thrid and served as Philadelphia's designated hitter in his first action of the spring.

By Alaa Abdeldaiem
March 09, 2019

For the first time in 2019, Bryce Harper took the field as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.

Harper made his highly anticipated Grapefruit League debut for the Phillies against the Blue Jays, hitting third and serving as the team's designated hitter in his first action of the spring.

Harper made a good first impression on Phillies fans by choosing the "Fresh Prince" theme as his walkup song.

"It was great," Harper said of the fans' reactions. "The ovation they gave me, I'm very humble and very blessed to be able to go out there and play in front of a fanbase like that. I can't thank them enough for coming and supporting us."

Harper walked twice during his short time on the field, scoring on a Rhys Hoskins’ two-run blast in the first inning before being lifted for a pinch-runner in the third.

The Blue Jays used a four-man outfield during during both of Harper's at bats. Third baseman Eric Sogard shifted to left field, giving the Blue Jays four outfielders. The other three infielders stood to the right of second base, leaving the left side of the diamond wide open.

After a seven-season tenure with the Washington Nationals that included a National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, an NL MVP Award in 2015 and six All-Star nods, Harper became a free agent for the first time in his career back in October. The 26-year-old signed a 13-year megadeal worth $330 million with the Phillies on Feb. 28. Harper was introduced at a press conference on March 2. 

"It was just fun to be out there with the guys and in front of the fanbase, get some dirt on my cleats and just be in the batter's box again," Harper said after the game. "Just excited to get back out there and get back to playing baseball."

While his 2018 campaign didn't compare to his breakout season in 2015–when he led the NL in runs, homers, on-base percentage and slugging percentage–Harper still hit 34 home runs and ranked ninth in on-base percentage.

Harper finished the 2018 season with a slash line of .249/.393/.496 and has a career slash line of .279/.388/.512.

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