Trio of Phillies stars impress with highlights in spring training debuts vs Braves

Alec Bohm, J.T. Realmuto, and Bryce Harper all debuted for the Phillies on Wednesday and gave us some early spring training highlights.
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper looked good in the field in his spring training debut
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper looked good in the field in his spring training debut / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Alec Bohm's neck looked just fine today, as did J.T. Realmuto's swing. Bryce Harper's glove wasn't too shabby, either.

Matching up at home in Clearwater against the Atlanta Braves, the Phillies ran a number of regulars out for their 2024 Grapefruit League debuts on Wednesday. While the two rivals eventually battled to a 7-7 draw, the real story is the stars who came to play in front of a packed BayCare Ballpark.

Alec Bohm's neck looks just fine

After being held out of action with neck spasms when the Philadelphia Phillies opened their spring training Grapefruit League schedule this past weekend, Bohm made his spring debut on Wednesday and left little doubt about his neck.

It wasn't the first home run of the game — we'll get to that — but when Bohm came to the plate in the bottom of the first, he took an AJ Smith-Shawver first-pitch slider 418 feet to left for a two-run home run. He added a double in his third and final at-bat of the day, finishing his debut 2-for-3.

After slashing .274/.327/.437 with 20 home runs and 97 RBI in 2023, Bohm will be hoping to take the next step in his fifth MLB season, especially after winning his arbitration hearing earlier this month and earning $4 million in 2024.

J.T. Realmuto's new swing looks good early

Before Bohm launched his home run, another Phillie making his spring debut showed off his new swing. Starting catcher J.T. Realmuto, who worked on his swing in the lab this offseason (subscription required) as reported by The Athletic's Matt Gelb, got a hold of a slider on the eighth pitch of his at-bat. He turned on the breaking ball on the outside of the plate, pulling it to left for his first hit and home run of the spring. He finished his day 1-for-3.

After a somewhat inconsistent year at the plate in 2023 in which he hit a career-low .252 with a higher-than-normal 25.6 percent strikeout rate, the three-time All-Star and Silver Slugger is looking to have a stronger year with the bat. He's off to a good start.

Bryce Harper flashes the leather in his first inning at first base

Bryce Harper also made his debut on Wednesday, hitting third. While he went 1-for-3 with a run scored, his highlight came in the field. He showed impressive range and quickness in the top of the first, diving to his right to stop a ball before calmly flipping to Phillies pitcher Tyler Phillips to end the frame.

He made a tough play look easy, which is good to see for the right fielder-turned-first baseman. Coming into the season healthy, the Phillies are relying on Harper to lead them this season as he learns and perfects the nuances of his new position.

Whit Merrifield, in his third game of Grapefruit League action, continued his hot start going 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored. He's hitting .333 with a 1.222 OPS through nine at-bats. The utilityman got another start at second base, as manager Rob Thomson and the coaching staff opted to give Kyle Schwarber the start in left field, as he's feeling good physically to start camp.

It's still just the fifth game of the Phillies' Grapefruit League schedule, with exactly a month before Opening Day, and while the game itself means nothing in the grand scheme of things, seeing the Phillies stars roll out with strong debuts gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling on a late-February day.