Sixteen months late, but definitely better than never, Bryce Harper introduced the baseball-fashion world to furry cleats.
In what is becoming a Phillies opening-day tradition, Harper wore a pair of custom-designed, Phanatic-themed cleats Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. But this year's version, unlike the 2019 model, included green fur near the laces and Swarovski crystals around the Phanatic's eye on the toes.
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"I just get a text from my buddy at Under Armour and he sent me the shoe," Harper said Saturday, "and I was mind-blown."
Harper has a custom line of cleats and trainers from Under Armour and footwear for every occasion — Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, All-Star Game, you name it. He also has a hand in designing his shoes.
Last year, when Harper wanted something special for opening day, he asked Under Armour “to do a carpet thing” to match the Phanatic. But there wasn’t enough time to make it happen, so Harper settled for fuzzy laces.
Harper credited Leah Miller, creator of Bella Artistry in Michigan, for taking this year’s cleats to the next level. The self-described “Diamond Duchess,” Miller designed Las Vegas Golden Knights outerwear for Harper last year and a jacket for his wife. She worked with Under Armour to help add the bling to his cleats.
"I couldn't believe that she was able to do this," Harper said. "Just everything with it — the fur, the diamonds. She did an unbelievable job to really come up with it and the effort that she put into it."
Harper also arrived at Citizens Bank Park on Friday wearing a green suit with Phanatic-themed lining that he had custom-made by a Las Vegas designer. Harper said he has three other Phillies suits and might break one out before a Sunday Night Baseball game.
“I’m never scared to do something, never really worried about how something will be perceived even if it has glitter or fur on them,” Harper said. “I just really enjoy developing stuff and making stuff that makes people happy in their life. That’s something that brings me joy in mine.”
Although Roman Quinn started in center field against a right-handed pitcher Friday night and against a lefty Saturday, manager Joe Girardi classified center field as a platoon between switch-hitting Quinn and lefty-swinging Adam Haseley.
“I think we’re going to play it by matchups and we’re going to look who’s playing well,” Girardi said. “I just like where Roman is right now, but Hase is going to play a lot, too. I’m going to play them both.”
Rhys Hoskins has occupied predominantly two spots in the batting order during his brief major-league career — with sharply contrasting results.
In 215 games (925 plate appearances) as a cleanup hitter, Hoskins has slashed .257/.390/.543 with 53 home runs. In 121 games (549 plate appearances) entering Saturday as the No. 2 hitter, he slashed .219/.335/.442 with 25 homers.
It was notable, then, that Girardi put Hoskins in the 2-hole for the first two games.
“When you look at Rhys, even some of the struggles that he had last year, he’s an on-base guy,” Girardi said. “He offers a lot of power as well, so he’s an on-base and power guy. When you start talking about American League lineups, which we’re basically playing, there are RBI slots everywhere. The first time through the lineup, we have people that really, really grind out at-bats.”
Hoskins has always done that. He saw more pitches (3,223) than any major-league hitter last season.