Stepping to the plate for his first spring training cuts with his new team, Bryce Harper was welcomed by resounding cheers from Philadelphia Phillies fans, as well as an interesting defensive alignment.
The Toronto Blue Jays deployed a four-man outfield for both of Harper's at-bats during Saturday's game, shifting their third baseman into left field.
All four outfielders - including Eric Sogard on both occasions - played deep. The shortstop also shifted to the right of second base, leaving the left side of the infield completely vacant.
"I've never seen that. That's intense," Harper told The Associated Press. "If they start playing ball like that, it's definitely different."
The superstar outfielder added that he hopes teams don't implement the shift against him with regularity.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, known for his analytical approach, opted not to discuss the opposing team's strategy postgame. But he did divulge to reporters the advice he gave Harper for the contest.
"Hit a lot of homers, drive the ball like you're capable of," Kapler said. "Do exactly what you always do, be Bryce Harper."
Harper saw barely any strikes in his pair of plate appearances, taking walks in both.
Four-man outfield alignments are rare but not unheard of; Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo has faced them on multiple occasions.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo, entering his rookie campaign as an MLB skipper, told reporters his team would deploy unusual defensive alignments in the final weeks of spring training and that he plans to use them during the regular season, according to Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com.