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Fun and games in London for Mets and Phillies as players get pints, see sights

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LONDON (AP) — The Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets are enjoying London so much they might not want to go home.

Can you blame them? There’s business ahead with a two-game set this weekend, but Friday’s workout at London Stadium was a laid-back affair following team dinners the night before.

“It was really nice to have a proper pint of Guinness,” Mets first baseman Pete Alonso said.

A group of Phillies visited the Tower of London for an event before heading to a Philly-themed bar. Phillies manager Rob Thomson estimated the crowd at 500 fans.

Bryce Harper hit a market and sampled food from various vendors. The best part? No one recognized him.

“I’ve actually enjoyed people not really realizing who I am,” the slugger said. “The coolest thing I’ve seen in London yet is, I’ve driven by and I’ve seen people outside the pub drinking and having conversation — with no phones or anything like that. … I think everybody can learn from that.”

The Phillie Phanatic made the trip and showed no signs of jet lag in firing up some school children who watched the workouts from the stands behind the first-base dugout. The Phillies shared video of him walking near Buckingham Palace dressed like a member of the King’s Guard.

Jake Diekman and fellow Mets relief pitchers ran routes and tossed an American football to each other in the outfield under two huge flags — the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes — high above center field at London Stadium, the reconfigured home of Premier League club West Ham.

This is MLB’s third visit to London in the past five seasons. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in 2019 played the league’s debut game in Europe and the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs split a two-game set last June.

A couple of fans holding a UK Red Sox Supporters Club flag high-fived each other after J.D. Martinez looked up and acknowledged them. Martinez helped the Red Sox win the 2018 World Series.

Besides sampling a Guinness, Alonso solicited advice from local reporters on where to get the best Sunday roast.

“Sunday we’re leaving unfortunately. I know Sunday roasts are a thing,” he said. “Are they served specifically on Sundays at places or can you get this at any time?”

Pretty much anytime was the answer plus “have as much gravy as possible.”

It wasn’t all laughs, though. Thomson said he “absolutely” is concerned about all travel the NL East-leading Phillies (44-19) have been doing. The Phillies left May 23 for a road trip that included stops in Denver and San Francisco.

“We’re crossing 18 time zones since Colorado ’til we get to Boston,” Thomson said. “That can put a lot of stress on your body, for a player, so we’re concerned about it. Everything we can do we’re trying to get it done so that they dont get hurt.”

SPECIAL GUESTS

Former West Ham players Anton Ferdinand and James Collins had an extended chat with Alonso before the first baseman took batting practice. Alonso signed a West Ham jersey and a couple of baseballs for the pair. … Matthew Broderick will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Saturday. Wrexham co-owner and Phillies fan Rob McElhenney gets the ball Sunday.

OLYMPICS

Harper reiterated his desire to play at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics and said the NHL-style break in schedule for the Winter Olympics could apply to baseball. “They take that three-week break, and they let those guys go out and play. That’s another big goal that we should have as Major League Baseball,” he said. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has said such a plan would be difficult for MLB to implement.

NOTES

Phillies: LHP Ranger Suárez (9-1, 1.70 ERA) is set to start Saturday. Suárez took a comebacker off his pitching hand in his last start. … C Rafael Marchan will be recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take the 27th spot this weekend “basically because J.T. (Realmuto) has been dinged up,” Thomson said.

Mets: LHP Sean Manaea (3-2, 3.63 ERA) will start Saturday. … 3B Brett Baty will be recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to be the 27th man for the weekend. Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said: “We have a decision to make after Sunday.”

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

By KEN MAGUIRE
AP Sports Writer

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