Who plays the third base behind Aaron Nola? Yes, it’s Bryce Harper

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On Monday, two members of the Phillies’ launch rotation took a step forward.

And Bryce Harper did his best to imitate Mike Schmidt.

First, the pitching stuff.

Aaron Nola took the mound for the first time in an intrasquad match while he stayed on track to potentially start the season opening a week from Friday.

And Zach Eflin, who had been slowed down for several days by spasms on the back, was able to start a pen session without problem.

“He threw a nice pen,” said pitcher Bryan Price. “There were no limits. He threw it big, aggressive. ”

Director Joe Girardi said the command of Eflin was “excellent”.

Eflin is expected to finish fourth in the Phillies’ rotation, but could drop one place if he needs an extra day.

Nola, Zack Wheeler and Jake Arrieta will precede Eflin in the rotation. Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta are fighting for the last place in the rotation. One of them will end up in an enclosure that could have 11 men outside the door.

The numbers will drop from 26 to 30 men for the first two weeks of the season. There is no limit to the number of pitchers a team can carry.

Nola faced 14 batters and retired one in three unstructured innings. He had to face additional hitters in the first two innings to increase the number of shots. He struck out eight of the first nine hitters he faced and allowed two hits and two walks in his third inning.

“Aaron launched well,” said Girardi. “He lost his command a bit in this third heat, but it’s probably normal fatigue at the end of your first outing. I feel good about Aaron’s whereabouts. ”

Nola threw 47 shots. He should be around 65 when he next goes out and that would put him on the right track to start the opening night. Girardi hasn’t officially named Nola his opening night entry as he wants to see how next week’s workouts are going. But Girardi recognized that Nola could indeed be the starter of the opening night if all goes well.

Nola may still be a little late in her work. He missed the first few days of training because he had come into contact with a person infected with COVID-19. Although Nola was not infected, the protocol asked her to stay away from the team for several days.

Several coaches and staff were forced to become defenders during the intrasquad match.

Harper got some time – six defensive withdrawals – on third.

Girardi acknowledged that there was a risk of putting the $ 330 million man, usually a right defender, about 90 feet from the batter.

“I think it’s important that the guys have fun,” said Girardi. “I saw him a week ago picking up bullets on the ground there and I was impressed. His hands were working well in front and he threw the ball well on the field. I said, ‘You look good there.’ ”

Girardi said Harper tapped him to play third in an intrasquad match.

Finally, Girardi gave in.

” Very well. A heat, ”said the manager. “But no diving. And make sure your arm is loose. ”

Harper got a ball on the field, a bouncer to his left. He moved his feet well, propelled him cleanly and struck the diamond for the third withdrawal.

Then he styled it off the field like Mike Schmidt.

It was hardly surprising that Harper performed well in third place. He was a receiver at college and had already played third. He moved to the field in a professional balloon.

The Phils will play another intrasquad game Tuesday night. Wheeler and Velasquez will each launch four rounds.

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