Bryce Harper does his best J.T. Realmuto impression to help Phillies out of a jam

With J.T. Realmuto out for a while, Harper stepped up when his team needed it most.
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

There were a lot of thoughts that went through everyone’s head when the Philadelphia Phillies announced J.T. Realmuto's knee surgery and that he was going to miss a significant amount of time.

Who would step into the two-hole in the lineup that he had filled for Trea Turner? Who would keep the runners at bay behind the plate with the team missing his elite 1.86 pop time?

But one thing wasn’t discussed as much: His leadership in the clubhouse and, more importantly, on the diamond. As an 11-year veteran, the 33-year-old catcher has earned the utmost respect of the pitching staff and is seen as a leader who guides them through their successes and struggles.

When a pitcher is struggling, it's commonplace for the catcher to visit the mound to calm him down, give his battery mate a breather and guide him to figure out what he's missing. But when the catcher has 24 career games at the MLB level and is playing his first big league game since 2021, someone needs to step up and take the reigns.

Bryce Harper does his best J.T. Realmuto impression to help Phillies out of a jam

In the bottom of the fourth inning on Wednesday night, with the Phillies up 4-0, Cristopher Sánchez started to lose control. He had just thrown his sixth straight ball and there were runners on the corners threatening with just one out.

After Sánchez fell behind 2-0, Bryce Harper stepped up. With 25-year-old Rafael Marchán behind the plate for the first time in almost three years and with the 27-year-old Sánchez searching for answers, Harper was the grownup in the room. He met Sánchez on the mound to calm him down and walk him through the struggles.

"I like Bryce going out," John Kruk said on the broadcast. "That's leadership when you have a young catcher. ... Look who's doing the talking. You don't think that means a boatload to Christopher Sánchez right there?"

Sánchez struggled most of the game but was able to work out of trouble. Up to that point, he had thrown just 45.4 percent of pitches for a strike which is well below his season average of 68.6 percent. Harper, realizing this was a big moment, took charge.

Sánchez got out of the jam, surrendering a sacrifice fly and then a ground out to shortstop to limit the damage to just one run.

As's Paul Casella reported, manager Rob Thomson loved what Harper did and how he took charge.

“That was great. From that point on, the last two hitters in the fourth, that was Sanchy -- throwing the ball with conviction, throwing strikes, using his changeup," Thomson said after the game, per Casella. "... So whatever Harp said was the right thing, and Sanchy got after it."

Harper knew it was time that someone stepped in and took charge.

“I just wanted to make sure he had all the confidence in the world to make pitches,” Harper told Casella.

Harper knows that no one can replace Realmuto and told Casella that it’ll be a total team effort: “I don't think you can really replace a J.T., you know? He's one of the best in the game for a reason. He does a great job back there, calls a great game and makes sure guys are comfortable.”

The Phillies will surely miss their backstop while he recovers from knee surgery, but with other veterans like Trea Turner coming back soon, and the likes of Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper roaming the clubhouse, the Phillies are confident they can stay afloat until Realmuto puts on the gear again.