7:42 PM ET
ESPN MLB insider
Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports”
PHILADELPHIA — In his Philadelphia Phillies debut Thursday, Bryce Harper looked and acted like a $330 million man of the people. He wore fluorescent-green shoes that paid homage to the Phillie Phanatic, bowed to fans chanting his name before the season’s first pitch and tossed a ball into the stands for the perfect Opening Day keepsake.
The only thing missing were the hits.
Harper went 0-for-3 with a walk in his first game with the Phillies, who cobbled together plenty of offense anyway in a 10-4 victory over the reigning National League East champion Atlanta Braves.
The decision to intentionally walk Harper in the seventh inning to load the bases backfired almost instantaneously. Cleanup hitter Rhys Hoskins pummeled a 96-mph Luke Jackson fastball deep over the left-field wall at Citizens Bank Park for his first career grand slam.
Harper savored his trot around the bases, kicking up dirt with his custom cleats and scoring the first run of many in a Phillies uniform. When Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with