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Phillies Notebook: Rob Thomson unbothered by questions about Bryce Harper’s hustle

PHILADELPHIA — Absent any real problems at the moment around the team with the best record in baseball, it’s time to go spelunking for them. Hence the kvetching over Bryce Harper not running out ground balls to first base.

The two-time National League MVP had a rough trip through Colorado and San Francisco.

He was ejected in the first inning of last Friday’s game, took out his frustrations on a bat rack after a first-inning strikeout Wednesday and then induced the benches to clear when Giants pitcher Kyle Harrison twice buzzed him up and in. Harper postgame absolved Harrison of any ill intent.

It wasn’t a banner road trip, going 3-for-21 with a homer and five RBIs in six games, not quite enough to cause Cooperstown to lose his number, one would think. But Harper rankled a certain type of baseball fan by not running out a grounder to shortstop in the top of the fourth with two runners in scoring position in a situation where hustle could’ve led to a run.

Among those the opposite of concerned is manager Rob Thomson.

“He is a guy that, there are times he gets frustrated and doesn’t run balls out, and there are times he runs 110 percent when he probably shouldn’t,” Thomson said Friday before a series with St. Louis. “There’s probably a pretty good medium there.”

Thomson said part of the frustration, after the first-inning strikeout and perhaps in dogging it in the fourth, was that Harper felt a little pain in knee on his first swing against the Giants. Thomson stopped short of even calling it a “tweak” and emphasized that Harper was fine. Harper started Friday and busted out of the box on a third-inning double.

Thomson was OK with his $330 million star doing what it took to manage his body through the game.

Harper’s desire isn’t often called into question.

His drive to return from a thumb fracture in 2022, then Tommy John surgery in 2023 created unrealistic timelines that he still managed to beat.

Rarely cheated on a swing, Harper’s not one for half measures. It’s part of why a move to first base was so important for him full-time in 2024, a down payment to keep him healthy for the next seven years of his contract in Philadelphia, which he’s already looking to extend.

He’s second among big league first baseman in defensive runs saved this year, a testament to his quick grasp of the position.

Thomson is always emphasizing the relationship with Harper as a competitor to strike the right balance. He also knows that what makes Harper great is an intensity that, occasionally, can frustrate, and Thomson is fine with that as the cost.

“A lot of it is driven by emotion,” Thomson said. “That’s who he is. That’s part of what makes him great.”

• • •

Your breathless Trea Turner hamstring update: He jogged Friday, lightly.

The All-Star shortstop took groundballs on the field and hit in the cage. Out since May 4 with a hamstring strain, Thomson reiterated that there’s no timeline for when Turner might resume baserunning.

“It’s coming along,” Thomson offered.

• • •

The Phillies Thursday traded minor league pitcher Ryan Burr to the Toronto Blue Jays for cash considerations.

Burr, who turned 30 on Tuesday, was 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 15 appearances for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He signed with the Phillies as a minor league free agent in December after being granted free agency by Tampa. He’s made 66 appearances in the big leagues, all with the Chicago White Sox from 2018-22, with a 4-3 mark and 4.08 ERA in 75 innings.

The Blue Jays placed Alex Manoah on the 15-day injured list with a right elbow sprain. Burr’s contract was selected from Triple-A Buffalo on Friday.

• • •

NOTES >> Since Turner went on the IL, the MLB leader in fWAR is … Edmundo Sosa? He’s slashing .313/.389/.594 in 20 starts at shortstop since Turner went down, which he added to with a two-run bomb Friday in the second inning off Miles Mikolas. The 439-footer was the first homer into Ashburn Alley by a Phillie since Darick Hall on July 22, 2022. Sosa also hasn’t made an error in the field. … After four stolen bases in the fourth inning on Wednesday, the first time the Phillies have done that in an inning since 2009, the team sits fourth in baseball with 67 stolen bags this year. They are 67-for-82 in steals. … The Phillies have two primetime games this weekend with the Cardinals. Saturday’s 7:15 p.m. first pitch on Fox is a marquee matchup between Ranger Suarez (9-1, 1.75 ERA) and Sonny Gray (7-2, 2.60). It’ll be 7:10 on ESPN Sunday night, with Lance Lynn (2-3, 3.45) opposing Taijuan Walker (3-1, 5.51).

Source: Berkshire mont

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