ATLANTA — Bryce Harper continues to improve his pitching but is unlikely to play first base before the All-Star break, Phillies manager Rob Thomson said before Friday’s game against the Braves.

Harper has been throwing up to 90 feet and will eventually go 120 feet, but the Phillies are being cautious. The pitching is the final part of his rehab from Tommy John surgery, and with his bat already in the lineup at the designated hitter spot, the Phillies don’t want to rush him back into the field and risk aggravation again.

Covey starts on Sunday

Dylan Covey will make his first start as a Phillie on Sunday Night Baseball against the Braves against MLB leadoff hitter Spencer Strider.

Without pressure.

Covey pitched very well in his Phillies debut on Tuesday, allowing one Diamondback run in five innings with six strikeouts. Covey’s lone run scored immediately as he was greeted with a single and three, but he held the D-backs in check from there.

He threw 91 pitches in that outing and is built to reach or surpass 100.

Covey has appeared in just two games this season — one with the Phillies and one with the Dodgers earlier this month. Overall, he gave up three runs over nine innings with nine strikeouts and two walks.

The Phillies claim he is an outfielder

The Phillies claimed outfielder Cal Stevenson off waivers from the San Francisco Giants and optioned him to Triple A.

Rule 5 pitcher Noah Song (lower back strain) was placed on the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster for the 26-year-old Stevenson.

“Speed ​​guy, more of a defender,” Thomson said. “He’s been hit in the minor leagues, not in the majors. He walks more than he strikes out. He’s bounced around quite a bit, so teams like him, it’s just a matter of roster management and he’s DFA or traded.”

Stevenson appeared in 23 games with the Athletics last season and went 10-for-60 (.167) with three doubles. He was 0-for-9 with three walks in six games with the Giants.

Hall will have to earn his way back

Darrick Hall could make a rehab start as early as next week and is eligible to return from the 60-day IL on June 5, but will have to return to the spot he opened the season with.

The Phillies used Hall as a first baseman against right-handed pitching in the first week of the season and first base is now his only spot with Harper DH’ing every day.

“He’s got to come down and pitch first and make sure he’s healthy and build innings,” Thomson said. “I know he’s going to leave for 60 days on June 5, but he has a few games to go.

Cody Clemens, another left-handed hitter, has started 11 of the Phillies’ last 28 games at first base and produced in those starts, hitting .316 with four homers, two doubles and 10 RBI.

“He swung the bat well, played solid defense,” Thomson said. “The moment is not too great for him.”

By Editor

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