Phillies' Bryce Harper will try to 'play smart' as he returns from the injured list with Kyle Schwarber

Alex Coffey, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Baseball

PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies’ Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber were activated off the 10-day injured list on Tuesday. Harper was recovering from a left hamstring injury and Schwarber had a left groin injury.

Both players were in the lineup for the Phillies’ series opener against the Dodgers on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park. Schwarber is back in the leadoff spot as the designated hitter, and Harper is batting third and playing first base.

It was initially unclear if Harper would be ready to rejoin the team on Tuesday, but he made significant progress over the weekend’s road trip in Atlanta. He ran the bases at 100% effort on Sunday, and said he felt good afterward, but was hesitant to give a timeline for his return.

Despite the fact that he has been cleared to play, Harper plans to be cautious this week.

“Obviously I’m going to play smart this week, not go crazy I’d imagine, just do the best I can going into the break,” Harper said.

When asked to elaborate on what he meant by playing smart, Harper said: “Not throwing the cloak on. Understanding what I need to do to stay in the lineup.”

Harper said on Sunday that he plans to play in the All-Star Game on July 16, and he reiterated that again on Tuesday. The goal for this week will be to not do too much, which, for a player like Harper, is easier said than done.

“I think anytime you’re able to get off the DL within 10 days, it’s huge,” he said. “Obviously that’s a really good team over there. But like I said, I want to play smart. Want to do it the right way, and have a good week.”

Harper and Schwarber left a June 27 loss to the Marlins early with their injuries and were placed on the injured list the next day. The Phillies went 5-4 without them.

“They did a fantastic job,” Schwarber said of his teammates. “I feel like that’s kind of been the MO of the team over the last couple of years: When someone goes down, someone steps right up to the challenge, and they take it right by the reins, and they run with it.

As corresponding moves, outfielder David Dahl was designated for assignment on Monday, and infielder Kody Clemens was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday.


“We’re bringing two left-handed bats, so that probably eliminates two left-handed bats, and David didn’t have any options left, so that was a DFA,” said manager Rob Thomson. “And Kody, as I told him, I just didn’t see a whole lot of playing time right now. So, we wanted to keep him going, want to keep him getting regular reps. Want to focus a little bit more on the outfield, left field, so he has that in his back pocket if we need to do it.”

Clemens will play left field three to four times a week in triple A. He’ll play the infield when he’s not in left field. Thomson didn’t rule out the possibility of Dahl returning to the organization if he clears waivers.

“Can’t say enough about what Dave did and how he came up here and performed well for us,” Schwarber said. “And obviously Kody too, he had some big hits, right? There’s some really good players — everyone else, too, you look at [Garrett] Stubbs, you look at [Rafael] Marchán, doing such a great job with J.T. [Realmuto] being down. It’s just kind of that mentality we have the whole time.”

Mercado out, Phillips in

Tyler Phillips will make his first big league start on Saturday. Michael Mercado, who started against the Braves on Sunday and allowed five earned runs in 1 2/3 innings, will move to the bullpen.

“This was the plan, from the beginning,” Thomson said of Mercado’s move, “because he doesn’t have that many innings on him. [Assistant pitching coach] Brian Kaplan told him that we will build you up, basically until the All-Star break, and then we’ll transition you back to the bullpen. At the time, it was in triple A, now we’re transitioning to a major league bullpen.”

When asked if this start will be an audition for Phillips, Thomson said: “We’ll see. I mean, anything can happen. But he pitched great the other day, so if he does that, it’ll be tough to take him out of the rotation.”

The 26-year-old Phillips, a South Jersey native and a graduate of Bishop Eustace Prep, made his big league debut against the Braves on Sunday. He allowed one run on a solo home run on three hits across four innings with seven strikeouts.

Extra bases

Reliever Michael Rucker, who was on a rehab assignment (right hand arterial vasospasm), was returned to the injured list on Tuesday with right turf toe.

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