I was pretty active on Twitter today. As I sat in the socially-distanced press box at Citizens Bank Park, I saw some baseball writers across the country questioning the wisdom of this condensed 2020 season.

I get the apprehension. Frankly, such concerns could (and likely will) grow in the coming days and weeks as more bad news breaks regarding COVID-19 case surges and geographical hot spots. There will plenty of time to discuss and evaluate those developments.

For today, however, my prevailing takeaway from what I would simply describe as a weird day at the park was that it was just nice to see baseball players finally playing baseball.

If you zeroed in on the swings, analyzed the defensive reps, and studied the field work closely enough, you could almost talk yourself into the idea that it was business as usual at Citizens Bank Park on Friday morning–even if it clearly wasn’t.

If I’m being honest, I’m not quite sure that I can pick the day’s headline story, so let me instead run you through some notes and observations I gathered from the ballpark.

Let’s see how this goes.

Bryce Harper Hit Some Baseballs Quite Far

Let’s start with the good stuff. Bryce Harper, rocking his J.T. Realmuto t-shirt once again (he says he’s not making a statement about the team re-signing the best catcher in the game) launched some pretty impressive bombs beyond the fences of a vacant Citizens Bank Park.

One such blast rolled into the right field concourse, finishing at Chickie’s and Pete’s. I wasn’t able to grab a video of that swing, but I did capture this majestic blast:

A sight for the sore eyes, for sure.

Harper also met with reporters a little after 1 p.m. and addressed a variety of topics. Some notes there:

  • At this point, Harper says he feels safe.
  • He believes it’s important to take extra safety precautions.
  • I’m paraphrasing on this one, but he said the hardest thing will be not hanging out in the clubhouse because everyone gets along and likes each other. Later on, Phillies manager Joe Girardi said he’s looking into ways to get the team to bond and find things to do.
  • Harper believes it will be “terrible” and “sad” if the Phillies can’t re-sign Realmuto, noting the entire organization “wants him in red pinstripes.”

We’re Talkin’ About Practice

As for the workout itself, there were some obvious distancing and grouping modifications in place, but things appeared to run smoothly.

Girardi told reporters after practice that the team utilized 14 different groups between Citizens Bank Park and fields at FDR Park:

  • Phillies hitters took live batting practice swings in groups of three.
  • Andrew McCutchen took some fly balls in left.
  • Pitchers long tossed along the right field warning track. According to Girardi, between 10-12 Phillies pitchers also threw a bullpen session.
  • Catchers worked on receiving borderline low strikes along the right field line before heading to the bullpen.

Players took and left the field using both clubhouses, with some using the main concourse to navigate the facility. It was hard to see from my viewpoint early on, but I believe some players were grabbing breakfast in the stands behind home plate. Here are some other observations from the session:

  • McCutchen, who has come to camp looking noticeably bulked up, appeared comfortable during batting practice. He also moved around well in the outfield. It seemed to me like he got a bad read or two on side toss fungoes, but he otherwise looked good and is on track for Opening Day. Also, this:



  • At times, players were spaced out on the field. It looked to me like there were efforts to maintain social distancing. On other occasions, including one in which two players fist bumped, not so much. Many Phillies coaches and staff members had masks on, while several players did not throughout the course of the workout. Afterward, Girardi said he was pleased with the team’s effort on that front.
  • Didi Gregorius was not at practice today. Girardi hopes to have him on the field for tomorrow’s workout.

Safety First

Some people may not care about the writers’ experiences, but I know some are interested, so I’ll address that part here.

I give credit to the Phillies’ staff for how things ran on day one. Most of us went in not knowing what to expect, but I personally felt safe. The press box was socially distant and adhered to regulations, which included gratuitous amounts of hand sanitizer:


Notably, writers and team staff members also did a great job following mask policies, as you can see here:


Media members checked in through the normal entrance and were promptly scanned for temperature. John Clark grabbed a good shot of it:


I checked in at 97.2 degrees, meaning each of us will likely come in under the city’s high temperatures for the day.

Roster Moves

The Phillies announced this afternoon they have added catchers Henri Lartigue and Logan O’Hoppe to the team’s player pool. Right-hander Anthony Swarzak was also added. Some notes on these guys:

  • Lartigue, 25, possesses a .220 and .631 OPS in 1,1106 minor league at-bats. He was a seventh round selection by the Phillies in the 2016 draft.
  • O’Hoppe, 20, was taken by the Phillies in the 23rd round of the 2018 draft. He hit .136 in 77 games with Reading a year ago.
  • Swarzak is a 10-year veteran who appeared in five games with the Phillies this spring. After pitching to the tune of a 4.56 ERA in 59 games for the Braves and Mariners a year ago, he signed with the Phillies this offseason.