Seven-time All-Star Bryce Harper will play first base when the Phillies visit the Guardians on Friday night.
Philadelphia’s power-hitting clean-up hitter will make his third career appearance for the club at first base when the team begins a three-game Interleague series against Cleveland. The Phillies, who sit at 52–44, 10 1/2 games behind the Braves in the National League East, want to see how Harper transitions to the infield ahead of the trade deadline.
The Phillies, who trail the Diamondbacks and the Giants by just 1 1/2 games for the top wild-card spot in the National League, need to add more to the lineup by Aug. 1. Slugging outfielder Kyle Schwarber, who leads the club with 26 home runs, is the only player on the roster to top more than 14 homers this season.
Harper, who is fresh off of Tommy John surgery, has struggled with his power production, hitting only four home runs in 63 games this season. The 11-year veteran, who normally plays the outfield, has yet to play defense this year as the team has cautiously protected his surgically-repaired elbow by starting him at DH.
In his 1,258 career MLB games, Harper has made two previous appearances at first base, once in 2018 and once in ’21.
Rob Thomson’s club, which has won four of seven games since the All-Star break, is hoping the two-time National League MVP can successfully handle the position change as it begins to sort out its plan for the trade deadline.