Why Phillies Felt Tonight Was the Right Time to Sit Bryce Harper for the First Time

It took 68 games before the Phillies picked what they felt was the right spot to sit Bryce Harper.

Harper had started all 67 games this season - 66 in right field, one as the designated hitter - before manager Gabe Kapler made the call Wednesday to sit him. 

Harper, like J.T. Realmuto, never wants to come out of the lineup, whether it's during a slump, a short turnaround or a stretch of weeks without an off-day. The reason the decision was made Wednesday is because it gives Harper two full days off his feet before the Phillies begin a big three-game series in Atlanta.

Another option would have been resting Harper Friday to give him the two full days, but given the importance of the head-to-head matchups with the Braves, Kapler liked the idea better of resting him against the Diamondbacks. 

After Thursday, the Phillies are not off again until July 1.

"With the upcoming Atlanta and Washington series, we felt like we were not going to be able to get him that back-to-back blow and we felt like that back-to-back was very important," Kapler said. 

"We're thinking about the long-term prospects of Bryce and his health and I think all Phillies fans would agree that we want him to be at his strongest through the middle of the summer."

Harper will be available off the bench to pinch-hit.

Without him, the lineup looks like this:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Jean Segura, SS
3. Jay Bruce, LF
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. J.T. Realmuto, C
6. Scott Kingery, CF
7. Nick Williams, RF
8. Maikel Franco, 3B
9. Zach Eflin, P

On the mend

• Right-handed reliever Edubray Ramos (shoulder) is back after missing a month and will be a factor at the back-end of the Phillies' bullpen, especially with all of the injuries to key relievers. Ramos has a 4.66 ERA in 12 appearances this season after a successful 2018 in which he posted a 2.32 ERA in 52 games.

• Centerfielder Roman Quinn and reliever Pat Neshek are both nearing their returns. It is possible that one or both could be activated this weekend in Atlanta.

Quinn, out since April 24 with a groin injury suffered on a bunt single, is 4 for 8 during his rehab assignment in Clearwater.

Neshek has been on the IL since May 25 with rotator cuff inflammation. Neshek initially feared the worst but avoided serious injury. While most pitchers make a rehab outing or two before being activated, Neshek may not require any.

Adam Morgan is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Thursday and again Sunday. If all goes well, he could be activated in 8-to-10 days.

• Fellow right-handed reliever Tommy Hunter continues to throw in Florida and isn't far away from returning himself.

• David Robertson, out since April 15 with a Grade 1 flexor strain, threw Tuesday for the first time since the injury, which represents progress.

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