Sports

Harper and Schwarber return from injured list to start Phillies' series opener against Dodgers

PHILADELPHIA — (AP) — Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber are back in the lineup for the Philadelphia Phillies — count Harper in for the All-Star Game, too — just in time for a series against Los Angeles in a matchup of National League division leaders.

Harper and Schwarber were both injured late in a June 27 loss against Miami. The Phillies lost their two biggest sluggers, their clubhouse leaders and even a few games — the NL East leaders went 5-4 without them — while they recovered from their injuries. Harper strained his left hamstring running the bases in the ninth inning, and Schwarber strained his left groin while making a throw from left field in the eighth.

Schwarber was the designated hitter and leading off Tuesday against the Dodgers and Harper was hitting third and playing first base.

“I want to play smart, I want to do it the right way, just have a good week,” Harper said ahead of the opener against the Dodgers.

A two-time NL MVP, Harper was hitting .303 with 20 doubles, 20 homers and 58 RBIs and was named National League player of the month for May and June. He is near the top of the NL in several categories, including average, homers, RBIs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage.

Harper also said he would play in the July 16 All-Star Game at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Harper topped the NL and was second in the big leagues behind New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge with 3,277,920 votes. He was chosen for his eighth All-Star Game, his seventh as a starter. His previous All-Star appearances came as an outfielder and designated hitter.

“I'm not throwing the cloak on,” Harper said.

Schwarber was batting .250 with 17 homers and 49 RBIs and was leading the NL in walks before he was injured while playing the outfield for just the third time this season.

“I'm 100% and that was kind of the the biggest thing,” Schwarber said. “Just making sure it's going to be 100% and not grinding through it and trying to just play and work on getting healthy. It was just, getting healthy first and being able to play.”

The Phillies designated outfielder David Dahl for assignment and optioned infielder Kody Clemens to Triple-A Lehigh Valley ahead of the three-game series. Clemens hit .242 in 24 games with the Phillies, while Dahl batted .207 in 19 games.

The Phillies are still playing without catcher J.T. Realmuto after he underwent surgery in June to remove cartilage in his right knee. The three-time All-Star had seven homers and his 17-game hitting streak in May was the longest for a Phillies catcher in baseball’s modern era.

“Once you get J.T. back,” Schwarber said, “hopefully that's kind of that last little speed bump that we hit where we can finish this thing out healthy and strong and see where we go.”

The Phillies are 13-12 since Realmuto was placed on the 10-day IL on June 10. In Realmuto’s absence, Harper leads the club in OPS (1.185), Schwarber ranks second (1.096) and shortstop Trea Turner ranks third (.926).

The Phillies entered Tuesday night with the best record in baseball at 58-32 and the Dodgers led the NL West at 55-36. The Phillies expected another packed house at Citizens Bank Park — their season attendance of 1,919,133 is behind only the Dodgers and Yankees — in the first visit of the season from Shohei Ohtani.

“It's always fun when you can walk into a place, especially at home, and you know that you're going to get an electric atmosphere,” Schwarber said.

It's the seventh game in which Harper and Ohtani have faced off against each other. Harper and Ohtani are two of only three active players in MLB with multiple MVPs. Los Angeles Angels slugger Mike Trout has three.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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