CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Better late than never for Bryce Harper.
Four days before the end of the Philadelphia Phillies' spring training schedule, Harper hit his first two home runs for his new team. The two-run shot came in the bottom of the first inning, when Harper unloaded on a first-pitch fastball from Toronto Blue Jays righty Sam Gaviglio and sent a screaming line drive over the right field wall at Spectrum Field.
After crossing home plate, Harper high-fived fellow newcomer Andrew McCutchen, who walked to start the frame, then waved his left hand in acknowledgment to the ecstatic home crowd.
Harper's second homer came with two out in the sixth inning, off of left-hander Thomas Pannone. Harper was replaced in the top of the seventh, ending the day 2-for-3. He struck out swinging in his other at-bat and also drew a walk.
"Felt really good up there," Harper said. "I think we have a couple more days, so gonna take it day by day. Hopefully, of course, be ready for March 28th. That's the big thing. I feel good right now. Swing feels good. Timing, it's coming along. So take the next couple of days and really solidify that timing, and get to it. Have good at-bats and just keep seeing pitches, walking. When I'm walking, I think that's when I'm at my best, so just see as many pitches as I can and jump on some early when I need to, and have some good at-bats."
Said manager Gabe Kapler: "He showed why he's one of the best offensive players in baseball."
The 2015 National League MVP with the Washington Nationals, Harper signed a historic 13-year, $330 million free-agent contract with Philadelphia on March 2. The 26-year-old slugger played in his first Grapefruit League game a week later, on March 9, but he didn't get his first hit until Wednesday, when he recorded a single in two at-bats against the Detroit Tigers.
Including his big day on Thursday, Harper is now 3-for-13 with seven strikeouts and six walks.