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Phillies slugger Bryce Harper returns to lineup, goes 0 for 2 with a sacrifice fly

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Slugger Bryce Harper returned to the Philadelphia Phillies' lineup Saturday against the New York Yankees and went 0 for 2 with a sacrifice fly after missing a week because of a sore lower back.

The first baseman drove in his first run of the spring with a 394-foot first-inning sacrifice fly off left-hander Carlos Rodón that center fielder Aaron Judge caught on the warning track, scoring Whit Merrifield.

Shortstop Kevin Smith took a hit away from Harper with a leaping catch on an 101.9 mph liner in the third. He struck out swinging in the fifth against lefty reliever Nick Ramirez.

Harper, who played four innings of defense a day after taking part in a simulated game, is hitting .208 (5 for 23) overall this spring.

After 11 seasons as an outfielder, Harper moved to first base last year when he returned from Tommy John surgery, which he had in November. Back as a designated hitter on May 2, Harper started playing first on July 21 and had 36 regular-season starts there, plus 13 in the playoffs.

Harper was slowed by back spasms last summer, coming out of an Aug. 10 game against Washington, then making only six starts in the field over the next 21 games.

Philadelphia opens the regular season on Thursday at home against Atlanta.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb