Bryce Harper to report to Phillies camp on Wednesday Justin Verlander pitches 3 innings in spring debut for Mets
LAS VEGAS – Philadelphia Phillies batter Bryce Harper says he will show up for spring training on Wednesday as he continues to recover from elbow surgery and will then determine when he can return to full time.
The two-time National League MVP was injured in April and last played right field on April 16 in Miami. In November, he underwent reconstructive surgery on his right elbow, causing him to miss the start of spring training.
The 30-year-old will have to catch up when he arrives in Clearwater, Florida. His teammates are adjusting to the new timing rules, part of Major League Baseball’s effort to speed up the game.
“Of course it’s going to be a different game, especially with me and a lot of the guys who’ve been playing for a long time,” Harper said. “To see baseball on the clock will be different, but we will have to adapt to it. Let’s see what will happen next. I look forward to my progress in how and when I can.”
Harper was at the Las Vegas Speedway to serve as Grand Marshal of the Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Cup Series. He is a Las Vegas native who lives here during the off-season.
The Oakland Athletics are considering a move to Las Vegas. Their lease at RingCentral Coliseum is ending after the 2024 season, and the A’s are in talks with officials in both Las Vegas and Oakland.
Harper said he hoped Las Vegas would have a baseball team, but he would prefer it to be an expansion club.
“I don’t think a team can come here and thrive like the Knights (NHL Vegas Golden),” Harper said. “I think having a team like the Knights as an expansion is very different from another Major League Baseball team coming in here and trying to thrive.”
Harper knows about prosperity.
In May, he received an injection of platelet-rich plasma into his aching elbow and became a full-time hitter to finish the season, helping the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009.
They lost to the Houston Astros in six games, but Harper batted .349 with six home runs and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games. His homer with two runs and two strikeouts in the eighth inning captured the Phillies’ pennant in a 4-3 win over the San Diego Padres.
JUPITER, Florida – Justin Verlander threw for the first time in his career as both a National League player and with an innings clock. He said he wished the NL part had happened earlier.
“When guys like me were still beaten,” he joked.
It’s impossible to tell how much his total outs could have exceeded his current 3198.
Verlander’s first timer experience went reasonably well, as did his pitching overall, as the 40-year-old New York Mets rookie debuted in the spring.
After earning his third Cy Young award and World Series championship with Houston, he only shot seven balls out of 35 fields while allowing one run in three innings, hitting three in a 15-4 win over the Miami Marlins.
“I wanted to get used to serving hours,” he said. “Maybe I need to make a couple of small adjustments. There are only maybe one or two things, but not the main ones, so that’s good.
“The first part of the inning I want to speed up a bit. In particular, I sort of walk along the back of the mound. I almost pass between the pitcher’s mound and second base. If I just stay closer to the embankment and just take away the time it takes to walk – two or three seconds – by the time I get to the embankment and get the sign, I will be perfectly comfortable with how much time I have. left,” he said. “I really never want to throw a pitch without convincing. I don’t want to just drop something because we ran out of time.”
Had it not been for an outfield mistake by the Mets in the first leg, Verlander would have had a scoreless game. He walked none and gave up two hits.
“I felt pretty good,” he said. “I don’t want to be too picky this time of year. The first time you compete, you must allow your body to get used to the fast movement again. For the first run, it ticked all the boxes I wanted.
“The eye exam went pretty well. Secondly, you need to look at some of its indicators. To be able to walk away and say, “Okay, first, I came out of this healthy, and second, my stuff was pretty good, the place was pretty good, and the speed was pretty good.” . . I think it was all a big plus,” he said.
Verlander, who has been playing in the big leagues since 2006, is experimenting with a substitution for the first time.
“The first felt great,” he said. “I liked swings and miss. The second (batter) hit me right back, so I didn’t like it. But he didn’t hit that hard.”
Verlander is 244-133 in his career in Detroit and Houston, and has almost $87 million more in his pocket after signing a two-year deal with the Mets. His $35 million team option will become the player’s option for 2025 if he plays at least 140 innings next year, when he turns 41.
The right-hander said a former Tigers teammate Max Scherzer was the only Mets player he actually knew when he signed, and it was “a little unnerving”. But new experiences, new challenges are what will help you write interesting new chapters in your book of life.”
Verlander said he would like to make it to the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
“I turned it down for a lot of obvious reasons,” he said, “one of them is the Tommy John operation, and last year was the first year back. I (2022) World Series. I didn’t have free time.”
“Unfortunately, it just didn’t make much sense,” he said.
Verlander paused after one of his three innings to say hello to Ron Culpa, the plate umpire. Kulpa named Verlander the first of three non-hitters in Detroit on June 12, 2007. It was the first of Kulpa’s two non-hitters.
“The story of this hangs in my office. I just looked at it the other day,” said Kulpa, who now lives in nearby Boca Raton, Florida. “I can’t believe it was (Verlander).”
What’s different about Verlander now, Kulpa said, is that he’s a smarter pitcher.
“He’s not such a powerful pitcher,” Kulpa said. “Then he could pitch, but he just doesn’t throw 99 or 100. Now it’s 96, 95.”
Mets manager Buck Showalter, referring to a couple of changes, said, “Guys like (Verlander) are always looking for a different look—just something else—that guys have to prepare for defense before meetings.”
NFL Hall of Famer coach Bill Parcells visited Showalter before the game.
“The Parcel comes in and we score two touchdowns,” Showalter said. “I’ll get a message from him tonight asking what time I want him to be here tomorrow.”