Bryce Harper has been playing catch-up since his free agency carried over into spring training.
With a week left until opening day, the Philadelphia Phillies’ big-money addition looks ready to pay off.
Harper hit his first two Grapefruit League homers, combining with fellow new additions Andrew McCutchen and J.T. Realmuto to help Philadelphia pound the Toronto Blue Jays 13-6 Thursday.
Harper smashed a two-run homer to right off Sam Gaviglio in the fourth inning and had a solo shot against lefty Thomas Pannone in the sixth. McCutchen also took Gaviglio deep in the second, and Realmuto had a three-run shot in the fourth. That trio has been sharp this spring, with Harper posting a 1.192 OPS, Realmuto at 1.285 and McCutchen .830.
Gift Ngoepe and Andrew Knapp also went deep, and Vince Velasquez struck out nine but allowed three runs and two homers in 3 1/3 innings. Velasquez has a 12.79 ERA this spring.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. homered to continue a hot spring with Toronto, and Randal Grichuk, Billy McKinney and Rowdy Tellez also went deep. Gaviglio was charged with eight runs.
MORE FROM AROUND THE GRAPEFRUIT AND CACTUS LEAGUES
RAYS 8, BRAVES 1
A day after agreeing to a $24 million, six-year contract, Brandon Lowe hit a three-run homer for the Rays. The infielder has just 58 days of major league service and joined Evan Longoria, Matt Moore and Chris Archer as players with less than one year of major league service when they long-term deals with Tampa Bay.
Nate Lowe also had a three-run homer, and Mike Zunino hit a solo shot for the Rays. Two-way prospect Brendan McKay struck out four in two innings in his first spring start, allowing a run and two hits.
Top Braves prospect Kyle Wright allowed six runs and got just two outs. Austin Riley had a solo home run.
PIRATES 7, ORIOLES 5
Jung Ho Kang hit a game-ending grand slam to lift the Pirates. Jonah Davis, a 15th-round pick in last year’s draft, hit two home runs in his first career spring training game, and Francisco Cervelli added a solo shot. Chris Archer pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed three runs while striking out six.
David Hess, one of three pitchers vying for the final two spots in the Orioles rotation, allowed two solo homers over five innings. Trey Mancini homered off Archer.
TIGERS 5, ASTROS 3
Jeimer Candelario hit two home runs and Miguel Cabrera also went deep for the Tigers. Matt Moore allowed three runs over 4 1/3 innings.
Tony Kemp homered and had three hits for Houston. Corbin Martin pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowing five runs, five hits and three homers.
CARDINALS 11, YANKEES 3
Marcell Ozuna hit his first spring homer and had three hits, and Dexter Fowler hit two homers for the Cardinals. Jake Woodford allowed three runs in four innings. Dakota Hudson was named the team’s No. 5 starter after the game.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Greg Bird would likely play over the weekend after being held out Thursday after being hit on his right elbow in the first inning of Wednesday’s game. Bird is batting .333 with three doubles, three homers and 17 RBIs. Domingo German got the start and gave up five runs and three homers over 3 2/3 innings.
METS 6, MARLINS 0
Brandon Nimmo had two homers and four RBIs, and Michael Conforto hit his fifth homer of the spring for the Mets. Steven Matz pitched five strong innings, striking out three and allowing six hits. Led by Edwin Diaz, the bullpen followed with four hitless innings.
Marlins’ starter Wei-Yin Chen allowed five runs and seven hits, two of them home runs.