Bryce Harper is in center field for the first time as a Phillie Monday afternoon in their Labor Day game against the Mets.
The Phillies have little outfield depth at the moment with just Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Adam Haseley and Kyle Garlick healthy and active.
Jay Bruce (quad), Roman Quinn (concussion) and Scott Kingery (back spasms) are on the injured list.
Haseley played center field Sunday in New York but badly misplayed a ball that went over his head and led to a run.
Harper started 59 games in center field for the Nationals in 2018. He’s started 170 games there in the majors and amassed nearly 1,400 innings.
Harper’s defense was poor in his final season in Washington. When he arrived in Clearwater after signing with the Phillies last March, he attributed the defensive shortcomings to his work in center.
“I think it was more of playing about 65 (games) in center field. That takes a toll on myself I guess, but it’s no excuse,” Harper said after his second spring training game as a Phillie in 2019.
“I know I was terrible last year in center field. I feel like if I can stay out of center field, that’d be great. Wherever they need me to play, I’ll play, whether it’s center or left. But for me, leg-wise, keeping my legs and body fresh, right field is hopefully gonna be the spot.”
The Phillies are in a bind and so Harper goes to center. Andrew McCutchen played center field the first decade of his career but his speed and defense is not at the level it once was after the ACL tear.