HomeTrending MLB NewsRob Thomson not concerned about Bryce Harper's availability

Rob Thomson not concerned about Bryce Harper’s availability

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Bryce Harper missed his third straight Grapefruit League game on Sunday with back stiffness and will miss his fourth consecutive game on Monday, according to Phillies manager Rob Thomson. 

With Opening Day less than two weeks away, Thomson doesn’t seem overly worried about his superstar potentially missing time at the start of the regular season, saying he has “zero” concern and that Harper will “for sure” be back in the lineup later this week, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com

“I’ve backed him off,” Thomson said on Sunday. “He’s been doing a lot of work. A lot of swings, a lot of defensive work. He got a little stiff, so we’re just being precautious. We’ll just back him off for a few days.” 

The Phillies’ new full-time first baseman has had a quiet spring when he has taken the field. In 26 spring plate appearances, Harper has hit just .227 with zero home runs and zero RBIs and compiled an OPS of .619. 

According to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, Harper has never gone homerless in any spring training in which he’s been able to play. Harper missed spring training in 2023 as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery. 

Of course, spring training numbers for an established veteran such as Harper — whether good or bad — don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. However, if he were to suffer from reoccurring back issues, that could potentially throw a wrench into the Phillies’ plans for fielding a stronger defensive club in 2024. 

Harper’s move to first allows Kyle Schwarber, who struggled mightily in left field in 2023, to finally become the team’s primary designated hitter in 2024. And despite playing less than one full season at first base, Harper has shown flashes of natural ability at the position. At the beginning of spring training, Harper talked about how he was striving to become a great first baseman. 

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