Phillies fans can let out a huge sigh of relief — Bryce Harper appears to be fine.
X-rays came back negative and Harper has “minimal swelling” in his ankle, manager Gabe Kapler told reporters in Clearwater Saturday morning.
Harper expects, “as of right now,” to be ready for opening day, which is just 12 days away.
“Definitely could have been a lot worse,” Harper told reporters. “I came in feeling good today. ... That was the first time I’ve ever been hit in that ankle bone, you never know what you’re gonna get until you have an X-ray, but it’s just a contusion.”
Harper is day to day and will not play Saturday. He is unsure of his status for Sunday’s game in Clearwater, and he won’t play in either road game Monday or Tuesday. That leaves only a handful of spring contests left for Harper to get more plate appearances and get his timing down.
In 10 plate appearances this spring, Harper is 0 for 5 with three walks, a base via catcher’s interference, and the hit by pitch Friday that caused all this concern. Harper was hit on the ankle by an errant, 96 mph fastball from Blue Jays pitcher Trent Thornton.
With the Phillies traveling Monday and Tuesday, Harper will likely stay back in Clearwater to play in minor-league games to get more ABs. It’s common for a player recovering from injury in spring training to do so.
Kapler has no concerns that Harper will be ready for opening day from a health and timing standpoint.
“We’re gonna get him the reps he needs to get his rhythm and timing where they need to be,” the manager said.
“It’s definitely important to get back out there but also to be smart,” Harper added.
Harper was wearing protection on his foot/shin but it didn’t cover the spot of the ankle where he was hit and doesn’t think a piece of equipment can fully protect against what happened Friday.
“If I get hit again in that ankle,” Harper said, “it’s kind of like putting money on black.”