Timing getting better for Bryce Harper, who strokes two singles


CLEARWATER, Fla. — While most of his teammates traveled to Florida's east coast for a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, Bryce Harper stayed back in Pinellas County and got some extra at-bats in a minor-league game at Carpenter Complex.

Harper, who had gone hitless in his first eight official at-bats of the spring, batted four times and stroked his first two singles of the spring in a game against a Pittsburgh Pirates farm team. Both were hard-hit balls to the right side of the diamond.

One day earlier, Harper joked about going hitless in his first five games with the Phils. After his first hit Monday, he playfully called back to the dugout to see if someone could retrieve the ball as a souvenir.

Harper also grounded out and struck out in the minor-league game. He played four innings in right field.

Catcher J.T. Realmuto and reliever David Robertson also appeared in the minor-league game.

Hitting coach John Mallee liked the way Harper swung the bat.

"His timing is getting better and he's starting to put the ball on the barrel more," Mallee said.

Harper will continue his defensive work on Tuesday. He will also track pitches in the bullpen. That can be valuable for a hitter trying to get his eyes ready for the season.

Harper is expected to start in right field when the Phillies host the Detroit Tigers in Clearwater on Wednesday.

On the road, the Phillies lost, 4-1, to the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla. 

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