Harper hopes he's not home for Halloween again this year

Bryce Harper and the Phillies
Bryce Harper admits he wasn't sure what the plans were for the Phillies entering the offseason, but once the club introduced Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations, everything changed. 

"When he came in, it was kind of like 'Whoa, here we go,'" Harper said on Thursday. "You don't really bring in Dombrowski unless it's a win-now kind of move. I think Dombrowski has done a great job, and the way Dombrowski works, he may not be done yet." 

Harper noted the re-signings of J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius, a rebuilt bullpen featuring Archie Bradley, and the addition of veteran starters in Matt Moore and Chase Anderson as reasons the club expects to compete in 2021. 

He knows it won't be easy in arguably the most challenging division in the sport. 

"I think this is the best division in baseball; I don't think that's even a question," Harper said. "We have five teams ... that are really good. I think this is going to be a juggernaut of a division. 

"Hopefully, if we put our right foot forward and have our lineup healthy all year and our starting pitching healthy all year long, with the revamped bullpen we have, I think we'll be right there in the hunt." 

For as good as he's been in his career, Harper has yet to win a postseason series. He's not reached the playoffs since 2017. The Phillies haven't been there since 2011. 

"I hate being home for Halloween, I can tell you that," Harper said. "I think the town needs it. The city of Philadelphia deserves (postseason baseball) and they need it. We're a team that can hopefully do that for them and give that to them. They deserve to be in the stands in October and I know they're willing to do that."

Back issues hindered Harper over the final month last season. He hit just .253 over the final month and admits the pain was so intense that he couldn't throw a baseball. 

"We have a great program of what I need to do and how I need to do it," Harper said. "I feel really good about where I'm at, but I have to stay on top of this thing. I need to understand how I'm working and my workload. I want to play every day. I want to be able to perform every day as well and be smart performing every single day. The Phillies and the city of Philadelphia are going to need me to do that for us to win."
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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