HEADLINE

Phillies OF Harper (back) returns to lineup

Field Level Media

September 21, 2020 at 9:24 pm.

Bryce Harper’s lower back stiffness did not keep him out for long as he was in the Philadelphia Phillies’ starting lineup Monday as the designated hitter.

Harper left Sunday’s 6-3 defeat to the Toronto Blue Jays with a back injury after he struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh inning.

A night of rest no doubt helped, but what might have inspired Harper to play even more is the Phillies’ tenuous hold on a National League playoff spot. The Phillies entered the day in seventh place in the National League, and in possession of one of two wild-card berths, with eight teams from each league advancing to the postseason. The regular season ends Sunday.

At 27-26 entering the game, the Phillies were just a half game ahead of three teams lower than them in the NL standings: the Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants and Milwaukee Brewers.

Harper, 27, was batting second in Monday’s series opener against the Washington Nationals, his former team. According to manager Joe Girardi, Harper will also play in one of the doubleheader games Tuesday.

Harper is batting .260 this season with a .407 on-base percentage that has been helped by his NL-leading 41 walks. He has 11 home runs and 28 RBIs in 51 games. The 2015 NL MVP, and veteran of nine seasons, is a career .275 hitter with 230 home runs and 663 RBIs in 1,135 games.