ATLANTA — Bryce Harper continues to make progress throwing but is unlikely to play first base before the All-Star break, Phillies manager Rob Thomson said prior to Friday’s game against the Braves.
Harper has been throwing out to 90 feet and will eventually graduate to 120 feet, but the Phillies are being cautious. Throwing is the final piece of his rehab from Tommy John surgery, and with his bat already in the lineup in the designated hitter spot, the Phillies don’t want to rush him back to the field and risk re-aggravation.
Covey to start Sunday
Dylan Covey will make his first start as a Phillie on Sunday Night Baseball against the Braves, opposite MLB strikeout leader Spencer Strider.
Covey pitched very well in his Phillies debut Tuesday, allowing one run to the Diamondbacks over five innings with six strikeouts. Covey’s lone run scored immediately as he was greeted with a single and a triple, but he held the D-backs in check from there.
He threw 91 pitches in that outing and is built up to reach or exceed 100.
Covey has appeared in just two games this season — one with the Phillies and one with the Dodgers earlier in the month. Altogether, he’s given up three runs over nine innings with nine strikeouts and two walks.
Phillies claim an outfielder
The Phillies claimed outfielder Cal Stevenson off waivers from the San Francisco Giants and optioned him to Triple A.
Rule 5 pitcher Noah Song (low back strain) was transferred to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster for the 26-year-old Stevenson.
“Speed guy, more of a defender,” Thomson said. “He’s hit in the minor leagues, not in the majors. Walks more than he strikes out. He’s bounced around quite a bit, so teams like him, it’s just a matter of roster management and he’s DFA’d or traded.”
Stevenson appeared in 23 games with the Athletics last season and went 10-for-60 (.167) with three doubles. He was 0-for-9 with three walks in six games with the Giants.
Hall will need to earn his way back
Darick Hall could begin a rehab assignment early next week and is eligible to return from the 60-day IL on June 5, but he will need to hit his way back to the spot he opened the season with.
The Phillies used Hall as a first baseman against right-handed pitching in the season’s first week and first base is the only spot for him now with Harper DH’ing every day.
“He’s got to go down and perform first and make sure he’s healthy and build innings,” Thomson said. “I know he comes off the 60-day on June 5, but he’s got some games he needs to get under his belt.”
Kody Clemens, another left-handed hitter, has started 11 of the Phillies’ last 28 games at first base and produced in those starts, hitting .316 with four homers, two doubles and 10 RBI.
“He’s swung the bat well, played solid defense,” Thomson said. “The moment’s not too big for him.”