Watch: Bryce Harper gets first Phillies hits in Minor League bout

March 19 (UPI) — Outfielder Bryce Harper got his first hits as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies during a Minor League game in Clearwater, Fla.

The six-time all-star and blockbuster free agency signee did not play with the full squad during its 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals Monday in Jupiter, Fla. Instead, he picked up a bat against a Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate at the Double-A level at the Carpenter Complex. Harper went 2-for-4 with two singles. He played four innings in right field.

His first hit was a line drive up the middle. He jokingly asked for the baseball as a souvenir. Harper also struck out and grounded out to second base.

Harper remains hitless in eight at-bats for the Phillies in spring training, has been walked four times and has an on-base percentage of .385 with two runs and a stolen base.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to his timing,” Phillies hitting coach John Mallee told the team website. “Being able to stay on pitches moving away from him, getting used to velocity, having not played over the winter and not having the at-bats.

“Now his timing is getting better. He’s starting to put the ball on the barrel a lot more. Good things to come.”

Harper is expected to return to the Phillies’ lineup Wednesday in Clearwater, after some fielding and bullpen sessions Tuesday. He is dealing with minor right ankle swelling after taking a hit during an at-bat Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Phillies host the Atlanta Braves on opening day, March 28, at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

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