Bryce Harper out for Phillies vs. Mets; Jose Alvarado nearing rehab assignment
NEW YORK — Bryce Harper was out of the Phillies’ lineup for Tuesday’s series opener at Citi Field — the first game of the season between the Phils and Mets — but it was not because of injury.
The Phillies wanted to give Harper his first day off since returning from Tommy John surgery on May 2. They saw the beginning of this week as an opportunity to get him two full days off with the team idle on Memorial Day.
“It was scheduled out that way,” manager Rob Thomson said. “We were going to give him two days, so it was either going to be Sunday and Monday or Monday and today, and he wanted to go Sunday.”
Harper went 3-for-4 with a home run in the opener of the Phillies’ four-game series in Atlanta, then went 0-for-10 with three walks over the weekend.
From his second game back at Dodger Stadium through the first game of the Braves series, he hit .366/.458/.578 with six doubles, three homers, seven RBI and 18 runs scored in 19 games.
Kyle Schwarber served as the designated hitter Tuesday night in the Phillies’ first matchup with 30-year-old right-handed forkballer Kodai Senga, the Mets’ $75 million free-agent signing from Japan.
Dalton Guthrie got the start in left field.
Alvarado takes the next step
Jose Alvarado will throw live batting practice Wednesday at Citi Field after throwing three successful bullpen sessions last week. If Alvarado comes away from the BP session feeling healthy, a rehab assignment could follow.
Thomson said he’d want to see Alvarado make at least one appearance in the minors.
“One, for sure, maybe two, just to see how he bounces back,” Thomson said. “He’s been out for a while now.”
Alvarado has been sidelined since May 8 with left elbow inflammation. He has a 0.63 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 14 walk-free innings this season.
No 5th starter decision yet
The Phillies have not made a decision yet about who will start Saturday in D.C. the next time the fifth spot in the rotation comes up. It seems unlikely it would be Dylan Covey, who allowed seven runs (five earned) on six hits and two homers without making it out of the first inning Sunday night in Atlanta.
Covey will be available out of the Phils’ bullpen beginning Wednesday, and Thomson said bullpen usage over the next few days could help determine the decision about Saturday.
Left-hander Cristopher Sanchez pitched six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts as a bulk pitcher behind an opener Sunday for Triple A Lehigh Valley. He’s on the 40-man roster and could be in play for Saturday in some form as he’d be on regular rest.
Hall, Marchan and Pache
Darick Hall and Rafael Marchan were set to begin rehab assignments Tuesday night with Clearwater, though rain was in the forecast. Hall was scheduled to DH with Marchan behind the plate.
Hall has been out since the second series of the regular season with a sprained thumb suffered sliding into second base at Yankee Stadium. He will have to hit in the minors to regain the role he began the season with as the Phils’ first baseman against right-handed pitching. Kody Clemens has had a productive month of May to solidify himself in that role for now, and Hall has missed nearly two months already, so he won’t be returned to the majors when he’s first eligible to come off the 60-day injured list on June 5.
Marchan, the Phils’ third-string catcher and the only one on the 40-man roster after J.T. Realmuto and Garrett Stubbs, has been out since spring training with a hamate fracture.
Center fielder Cristian Pache (torn meniscus) participated in an extended spring training game over the weekend and came away from physical tests Monday feeling and looking good. He was set for more testing Tuesday and could begin his rehab assignment in the next few days.
“Yesterday went really well, so we’re moving forward,” Thomson said.