In the bottom of the sixth inning of a Friday spring training game, Toronto Blue Jays rookie pitcher Trent Thornton uncorked a 96-mile-per-hour fastball directly into the right ankle of one Bryce Harper, who was making just his eighth plate appearance in a Phillies uniform. The sound of the ball popping off Harper’s ankle is not a good one:
Harper went down and was obviously both in a lot of pain and very pissed. A Phillies trainer came out to assess his condition, and Harper was eventually able to make his way to the clubhouse, albeit with a pronounced and painful-looking limp. Given where Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile set up prior to the pitch, and from Thornton’s immediate reaction, it’s clear that this was unintentional. Turns out the 25-year-old pitcher was pumped and jacked to face Harper for the very first time, and his stuff felt good, and he wanted to throw his best fastball in order to capitalize on a good curve:
Harper has been a little snake-bit over the course of his career where injuries are concerned—he has only surpassed 147 regular-season games played in two of his seven years in the majors, and has played fewer than 120 games in three. Of course, he is now entering the first season of a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies, making him the highest paid player in MLB history. Manager Gabe Kapler described the injury as a right foot contusion, but that’s pending the results of an X-ray. The Phillies open their season in 13 days.