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Bryce Harper homers in simulated game

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Bryce Harper crushed a first wicket ball from teammate Jerad Eickhoff on Wednesday, across the right field wall, across the hillside, "Okay, you can stay," said teammate Andrew McCutchen nearby. Harper and Eickhoff matched in a soon-to-be-premiered simulated game, but it was Harper's latest move towards his debut in the Grapefruit League Saturday against Blue Jays. Harper will be Phillies designated hitter against Jays. He said he expects two patches of performances Saturday in front of a sellout audience. "I felt good," Harper said afterwards. "Just get out there to see places, see the spin. It's the first day, so you want to see as many places as possible and try to grab a couple." Harper entered the filth of the dirt for his third of four plate game against Eickhoff. He put first-pitch curveball. Eickhoff threw one. "I thought I had thrown it low in the zone, it would have been a little better," Eickhoff said. "But I did my pitch and hit strike with an elevated pitch, so it was kind of a tip-your-cap kind of thing." Harper said he shows he needs 40-45 plates in the Grapefruit League to be ready at the opening day. If he gets a little smaller, it should be good. Feeling brotherly loved. #Phamily pic.twitter.com/SJaEIx8FlE &#821 1; Bryce Harper (@ bryceharper3) March 6, 2019 Eickhoff is trying to catch up after a setback in January after karpal tunnel operation in October. "Getting to the arena was huge," Eickhoff said.…

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Bryce Harper crushed a first wicket ball from teammate Jerad Eickhoff on Wednesday, across the right field wall, across the hillside,

“Okay, you can stay,” said teammate Andrew McCutchen nearby.

Harper and Eickhoff matched in a soon-to-be-premiered simulated game, but it was Harper’s latest move towards his debut in the Grapefruit League Saturday against Blue Jays. Harper will be Phillies designated hitter against Jays. He said he expects two patches of performances Saturday in front of a sellout audience.

“I felt good,” Harper said afterwards. “Just get out there to see places, see the spin. It’s the first day, so you want to see as many places as possible and try to grab a couple.”

Harper entered the filth of the dirt for his third of four plate game against Eickhoff. He put first-pitch curveball.

Eickhoff threw one.

“I thought I had thrown it low in the zone, it would have been a little better,” Eickhoff said. “But I did my pitch and hit strike with an elevated pitch, so it was kind of a tip-your-cap kind of thing.”

Harper said he shows he needs 40-45 plates in the Grapefruit League to be ready at the opening day.

If he gets a little smaller, it should be good.

Eickhoff is trying to catch up after a setback in January after karpal tunnel operation in October.

“Getting to the arena was huge,” Eickhoff said. “And there was a small crowd out there, so you had a little more adrenaline than if there was no one there. It was good. Get good feedback from Bryce when we were finished. What did I do really well, what kept him so far as things to see and all that. So it was really positive. “

Harper went 2-in-12 with a double, a home run, three RBI and six strikes in his career against Eickhoff, which can probably open the season in Triple-A, if he stays healthy. Eickhoff may be the team’s No. 1 alternative if a starter fights or is injured.

It was the old Vince
Vince Velasquez has a new delivery and a new number 2019.

“A new Vince Velasquez”, he said after betting on a plus innings Wednesday against Blue Jays at Dunedin Stadium. He got a home and two walks. He knocked out two.

Velasquez, 26, went 9-12 with a 4.85 ERA and 3.75 FIP in 31 appearances (30 starts) last season. He said he expects to take a significant step forward in his fourth season with Phillies. An interesting change from last season is his delivery. He moves his hands from his waist over his head in a floating motion before coming to the plate, instead of starting at the belt, stopping at his face and releasing his hands down before throwing.

He also switched from No. 28 to No. 21.

“It was just a lot of movement from the beginning of the delivery,” said Velasquez. “It affected my finish, my release point. There was a lot of movement to handle. This helps my hands get into the slots a little faster.”

And the number of changes? It’s a family number. Velasquez said he has a family picture at home with his father and two brothers. Everyone in the picture wears no. 21. Velasquez said he had the opportunity to choose No. 21 when he joined Phillies in December 2015 after a deal with Astros but he chose No. 28 to try something else.

“It’s just another approach, a change, a new beginning, a new beginning all the way,” Velasquez said. “I would say I’m kind as a new potter.”

Up next
Phillies have a split-squad Thursday. Phillies right-handler Drew Anderson (1-0, 3.38 ERA) faces Yankees left-wing James Paxton (1-0, 2.25 ERA) on Thursday afternoon in Clearwater. Leftist JoJo Romero (0-0, 1.80 ERA) faces Tiger’s left-wing Jordan Zimmermann (1-0, 1.80 ERA) in Lakeland.

Todd Zolecki has covered Phillies since 2003 and for MLB.com since 2009 Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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