TAMPA, Fla. — Bryce Harper went 0-for-2 against New York Yankees Opening Day starter Masahiro Tanaka on Wednesday night in his third spring training game, and first on the road, since signing baseball’s biggest contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The slugger is hitless in three at-bats and has walked three times overall.
“I feel like I have six at-bats,” Harper said. “Still got to get going and get my timing right. That’s the biggest thing. I think I’m seeing it pretty well. Just got to get timing.”
Harper received a mixture of applause and boos from the packed crowd at Steinbrenner Field when he was announced before a first-inning at-bat that ended with a grounder to first base.
“He’s obviously not only a star player in the game but also a big attraction,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Harper, who homered for his only hit in five regular-season at-bats against Tanaka, struck out swinging on the eighth pitch of his at-bat in the third.
The strikeout came on an 89 mph splitter.
“Not just him, I think the whole lineup was close to their Opening Day starting lineup,” Tanaka said through a translator. “So, it’s always good to be able to pitch against guys that will regularly start a game, and you obviously always want to do good against those guys.”
Tanaka allowed two runs, six hits and struck out six over 3 2/3 innings.
Facing reliever Adam Ottavino in the fifth, Harper was awarded first base on catcher’s interference and then stole second.
“I said, ‘Hey, it’s spring training, can I stay here?'” Harper said. “[The umpire] said get to first. I tried. I would have liked to get that last at-bat, for sure.”
Harper left Washington as a free agent and signed a record $330 million, 13-year contract with Philadelphia this month.
“Bryce being here and bringing this attention, I think, has a chance to create higher expectations, which can create a higher level of play from our guys,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “And also I think it separates the guys who play with the brightest lights from the guys who can’t, and I think that’s a great thing for our ballclub.”
Harper walked twice against Toronto on Saturday. He took a 96 mph fastball for strike three from American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell and drew a walk from Jalen Beeks in Monday’s game against Tampa Bay.
MEETING MR. OCTOBER
Harper talked with Hall of Famer and Yankees adviser Reggie Jackson, who told the six-time All-Star that he is important to the game.
“Definitely humbling,” Harper said. “Just to be able to stand there and talk to him and hear what he had to say, it’s pretty incredible.”
Yankees guest instructor Bernie Williams threw the ceremonial first pitch and played “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the guitar while in uniform. The jazz guitarist spent Monday’s off day performing in a concert at nearby Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. He got a loud ovation walking off the field carrying a guitar case over his shoulder.
Longtime minor league manager and coach Tony Franklin is retiring after spring training, ending a run of 48 years in pro baseball that includes the past 13 with the Yankees. “I enjoyed every minute,” Franklin said. Among his assignments with the Yankees were managing Double-A Trenton and rookie-league Pulaski. He also was rehab coach at the Tampa minor league complex.
Phillies OF Odubel Herrera (hamstring) and 2B Cesar Hernandez both had five plate appearances in a minor league game. Hernandez will play Thursday against Pittsburgh, and Herrera will be the DH on Saturday against Houston. “A realistic scenario for us is to have both of those guys on our Opening Day roster ready to go, fully healthy, timing where it needs to be,” Kapler said.