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Valentin's absence leaves Phils' infield thin

Club places 24-year-old on paternity leave, activates Cozens
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Shortly before Sunday's finale with the Nationals, the Phillies announced they placed Jesmuel Valentin on paternity leave, putting them short a solid backup infielder as they try to sweep their three-game series at Nationals Park. Philadelphia also reinstated outfielder Dylan Cozens from the disabled list.

The Phillies bench consists of Cozens, Mitch Walding, Aaron Altherr and Jorge Alfaro. Walding is the only infielder of that group, but the 25-year-old has played third base for the Phillies only once.

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WASHINGTON -- Shortly before Sunday's finale with the Nationals, the Phillies announced they placed Jesmuel Valentin on paternity leave, putting them short a solid backup infielder as they try to sweep their three-game series at Nationals Park. Philadelphia also reinstated outfielder Dylan Cozens from the disabled list.

The Phillies bench consists of Cozens, Mitch Walding, Aaron Altherr and Jorge Alfaro. Walding is the only infielder of that group, but the 25-year-old has played third base for the Phillies only once.

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If the Phillies need to substitute Scott Kingery at shortstop, manager Gabe Kapler said he may switch players around. He said Cesar Hernandez could move from second base to shortstop and Walding and Alfaro could substitute in at third base. Kapler's comfortable moving an array of players to second base.

Valentin has mainly played third base, serving as a replacement for J.P. Crawford, who's expected to miss three to five more weeks with a broken left hand. Maikel Franco replaced Valentin at third on Saturday and went 4-for-4 with two runs scored in the Phillies' 5-3 win.

Valentin is hitting .216 with 12 strikeouts and three walks this season.

Cozens had been on the DL since June 9 with a left quadriceps strain. The 24-year-old is 2-for-9 with a home run in five games with the Phillies. In 50 games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Cozens is hitting .226 with 10 home runs, 25 RBIs, 75 strikeouts and 25 walks.

Cozens provides the Phillies a left-handed power hitter off the bench. He'll complement Altherr, a righty with power. Altherr hit 19 home runs last season but has only six in 179 at-bats this year.

"We got another really capable defender in Cozens," Kapler said. "He's running the bases really well. He's feeling really healthy, so we feel good about deploying him anyway we need."

Injury update: Neshek
Pat Neshek pitched the seventh inning of Class A Advanced Clearwater's game on Saturday, retiring the side and striking out two batters in his first rehab appearance.

Kapler, who watched Neshek's outing on video, said Neshek will make one more rehab outing before the Phillies decide whether to reactivate him.

"Ball was moving all over the place," Kapler said. "Using a two-seamer up and in to lefties that he feels really good about. He came off the field feeling healthy 100 percent with his arm."

Neshek, who signed a two-year, $16 million contract with Philadelphia in December, hasn't played this season due to shoulder and forearm injuries. The right-hander recorded a 1.59 ERA with 69 strikeouts and six walks in 71 appearances between the Phillies and Rockies last year.

Neshek should help a bullpen that holds the fourth-highest ERA in the National League and has rotated closers.

Kyle Melnick is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.

Philadelphia Phillies, Dylan Cozens, Jesmuel Valentin