CLEARWATER, Fla. — Bryce Harper may still be the main attraction at Phillies camp, but the outfielder is sharing some attention this spring with the Phillie Phanatic, whose new look has caused mixed reviews as the team continues to wage a legal battle to keep its iconic mascot.
Harper made his Grapefruit League debut on Tuesday afternoon, a few hours after the creators of the Phanatic slammed the furry green mascot’s new look as an affront to their intellectual property rights. The Phillies altered the mascot’s look this spring as a response to an ongoing federal court battle with Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison, who created the mascot in 1978 and are trying to claim ownership of the copyright.
“Hey, man. Everybody needs a glam up sometimes,” said Harper after he played the first five innings of a 13-6 loss to Toronto at Spectrum Field. “You know? Why not? I have long hair right now. I'm always changing.”
The Phanatic’s new look includes updated sneakers, a new Phillies cap, a slimmer physique, a feathery blue tail, a small set of wings, and an exaggerated backside. The mascot looked a bit different on Tuesday than he did last March when Harper first landed last March in Clearwater. But so does Harper.
“The long hair? I’m going to keep it going,” Harper said. “Keep it flowing. Why not? We’ll see what happens.”
Adam Haseley was placed in concussion protocol after a diving catch left him with a gash on his forehead and forced him to leave Tuesday’s game in the third inning.
Haseley, who entered camp as the favorite to open the season in center field, tried to dive for Rowdy Tellez’s fly ball to center. He smacked his head on the outfield grass and his sunglasses cut his forehead.
“We’re just going to monitor him overnight,” said bench coach Rob Thomson, who served as the manager in the split-squad game. “No activity until we get more news.”
Jake Arrieta said the first inning of each spring training is always difficult and Tuesday was no different as the righthander allowed a three-run homer in his first inning of the Grapefruit League season.
“It’s like you’re relearning how to acclimate to game speed again,” Arrieta said. “It’s weird.”
The righthander settled down in the second inning and retired the side in order. The lone baserunner in the second reached on an error by Arrieta but was then erased when J.T. Realmuto caught Josh Palacios stealing at second base. Arrieta allowed three hits and three runs in two innings. He struck out two and walked one. Most important, he said he felt pain-free after undergoing surgery last summer to remove a bone spur from his elbow.
“I feel like it’s coming out easier. There’s no restriction,” Arrieta said. “It’s coming out nice, the way that it should. Especially if I allow it to develop versus kind of jumping at it and trying to create things. But early in the spring I have a tendency to do that sometimes, get a little ahead of myself.”