Phillies Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper exudes confidence regarding his readiness for Opening Day despite missing the last four spring training games due to back discomfort. The Philadelphia Phillies' stalwart first baseman remains optimistic about facing the Atlanta Braves on March 28. 

Despite his absence from recent games and a lack of home runs or RBIs, the 31-year-old maintains his assurance. 

"I feel pretty confident. I'm fine," Harper affirmed Monday. His injury, sustained during a game against the Boston Red Sox last Thursday, prompted a conversation with Phillies manager Rob Thomson, who advised him to take a cautious approach. 

Returning from Tommy John surgery in 2023, Harper showcased his resilience by batting .293 with 21 home runs and 72 RBIs in 126 games, all while transitioning positions. His recurring back issues date back to September 2020, initially traced to a quadratus lumborum muscle concern. Despite occasional setbacks, including a stiff back in April 2021 and mid-back spasms last August, Harper has admirably managed his condition without requiring an extended stint on the injured list. 

The Phillies' decision to retain Harper at first base following last season aimed to alleviate strain on his back, a move Harper acknowledges. Reflecting on his recent setback, he admitted to possibly overexerting himself with extensive fieldwork and batting practice, a sentiment echoed by Thomson, who highlighted Harper's rigorous training regimen. 

Although Harper's Grapefruit League appearances have been limited to 22 at-bats across eight games, concerns about his readiness pale in comparison to previous seasons. Notably, he skipped spring training entirely last year, along with any minor league assignments, before making his 2023 debut on May 2 post-Tommy John surgery.

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