PHILADELPHIA -- Pete Mackanin spent the first six weeks of the season longing for an offensive infusion.With Cody Asche's return from an oblique injury, the Phillies manager had hopes help was on its way. But 39 plate appearances into Asche's season, he was hitting .200 with only two extra-base knocks.In
PHILADELPHIA -- Pete Mackanin spent the first six weeks of the season longing for an offensive infusion.
With Cody Asche's return from an oblique injury, the Phillies manager had hopes help was on its way. But 39 plate appearances into Asche's season, he was hitting .200 with only two extra-base knocks.
In plate appearances 40 and 41, though, Asche doubled his season total of extra-base hits, home runs, doubles and RBIs. Asche sparked the Phillies' offense in the club's 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday night, with a second-inning blast to the second deck in right field and a fourth-inning RBI double.
"It's good, confidence-wise, just to feel like you're providing something to the lineup," Asche said. "No one wants to just be there eating at-bats. When you're in the lineup, you want to bring something to the table."
In plate appearance No. 42, Asche added another two-bagger. But the energy didn't carry through the lineup, as the remaining Phillies combined for three more hits.
There's hope, beyond Asche's track record, that Wednesday could be a sign of things to come. Recently, he begun working on shortening his swing to get to the ball faster.
"I've been trying to do some things that help me be on time more," Asche said. "I think my first five or six games I had some pitches to do some damage on and foul-tipped them."
Asche's three hits marked the first time since he was activated that he recorded a multi-hit effort. He did so 22 times in 2015, 25 times in 2014 and 10 more in 2013. He'll need to continue to do so to stick in the Phillies' lineup.
Mackanin has the difficult task of injecting offense into the Phillies' outfield without obliterating its defense. Peter Bourjos has the strongest glove, but his bat is hitting .211 and he struck out two more times in a now-rare start Wednesday. The Phillies traded for Jimmy Paredes because of his power potential, but he's never posted a positive ultimate zone rating (UZR) in the outfield.
Mackanin knows Asche's limits defensively. Asche already is exclusively a left fielder. He usurped Tyler Goeddel's starting spot there, sliding Goeddel over to right, where he has struggled at times to track balls but has said he is comfortable.
"Paredes isn't the best defender and Asche is limited in his range," Mackanin said before Wednesday's game. "So it's going to be a juggling act from here on out. Goeddel is probably the priority, just to keep him playing as much as possible."
Goeddel can hit from either side. His bat didn't contribute much the first month of the season, but it has come around of late. His defense isn't spectacular, but rarely is it a negative.
When Mackanin says Goeddel is a priority, he's looking toward the future. With prospects Nick Williams and Roman Quinn looming, it's just as important for the 23-year-old Goeddel to develop as it is for the 25-year-old Asche to earn his role in left field.
"I think it's time for him to get on track," Mackanin said of Asche. "And hopefully this is the start of him providing some offense for us."
Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.