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Bryce Harper makes 1st career start at first base, jumps into camera well to make highlight grab

July 21, 2023;  Cleveland, Ohio, USA;  Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper (3) waits for a pitch during the first inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field.  Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper, first baseman. The Phillies will take it. Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper didn’t wait long to make an impact in his first career start at first base.

The Philadelphia Phillies star, and usual designated hitter, was slotted in at first on Friday in a game against the Cleveland Guardians, his first time playing the field since tearing his right UCL on April 16, 2022. Since that day, he had made 151 straight starts at DH.

The first couple innings gave Harper some grounders to handle, but his first real action came in the third inning when Guardians shortstop Amed Rosario hit a foul pop-up seemingly destined for the stands. Harper stayed with the ball and jumped into the camera well to make a highlight catch:

Pretty good for a guy who hadn’t played defense in the last year.

Per, the Phillies’ plan is to play Harper at first base roughly every other game and see how his body responds. He underwent Tommy John surgery early in the offseason after playing the season with the torn ACL. It’s unclear when Harper will start playing right field again, the position where he has played 947 of his 1,259 career games, or if he will move back at all.

The Phillies probably won’t mind where he plays so long as he starts hitting like an MVP again. After winning his second career MVP in 2021 and All-Star honors in 2022, Harper entered Friday hitting 295/.388/.415 with four homers and six stolen bases in 63 games.