Bryce Harper bats against four-man outfield; Gabe Kapler says to ignore that shift
Phillies $330 million outfielder Bryce Harper faced an odd defense in his exhibition debut Saturday. His new manager, Gabe Kapler, made it clear that the slugger shouldn’t change his game in response.
Harper twice batted against a four-man outfield deployed by the Blue Jays. There were no attempts at bunt singles or slapped ground balls through the vacated third-base side of the infield. Harper walked both times.
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“I’ve never seen that. That’s intense,” Harper told reporters, per The Associated Press. “If they start playing ball like that, it’s definitely different.”
Kapler doesn’t want Harper to be “different” when the left-handed hitting slugger is in the box. His advice was essentially, “Don’t bunt; hit dingers.”
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“Hit a lot of homers, drive the ball like you’re capable of, do exactly what you always do, be Bryce Harper,” Kapler said, per the AP.
A four-man outfield is one of the options teams use to neutralize pull-hitting power hitters. The Rangers’ Joey Gallo experienced it against the Astros.
Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters (per MLB.com) that he wanted to try out a four-man outfield this weekend in preparation for the regular season. His first alignment came against a logical candidate in Harper.
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