CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Bryce Harper recorded his first at-bat of spring training on Monday afternoon, but he will have to wait for his first hit.
Harper, who walked twice in Saturday’s Grapefruit League debut, struck out in the first inning of an 8-2 loss to Tampa Bay against lefthander Blake Snell, the reigning American League Cy Young winner.
Harper is expected to play again Wednesday night in Tampa against the Yankees. The Phillies are off Tuesday.
“He’s good,” Harper said of Snell. “I was just happy to be able to get out there and face a guy like him, see some velocity and some offspeed as well. Just see one of the best in baseball, even if it’s the second game of the spring or middle of the season.”
Vince Velasquez allowed five runs on five hits in two innings. Jerad Eickhoff, in his first action of spring, allowed a pair of homers in two innings. The team’s only extra-base hits were homers from Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen.
“I’m pretty much staying as optimistic as possible,” Velasquez said. “They’re not the best results as far as what you can see, but as far as health goes, mentally, physically, I’m still there. I have full-on confidence as I finish the spring-training strong and get ready for the beginning of the season.”
In the fourth inning Harper, wearing a black “Philly Loaded” shirt under his uniform, stood on the dugout steps as McCutchen lifted a home run over the centerfield wall. Then, he was in the on-deck circle when Segura followed McCutchen with a back-to-back homer. The pressure was on Harper to follow suit. But he could not get his pitch to hit and settled for his third walk this spring in four plate appearances.