The Phillies on Sunday placed Crawford on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right forearm. He had an MRI exam in the morning. It revealed no ligament or joint damage, but he could miss at least a couple of weeks. Crawford is hitting .188 with two home runs, six RBIs and a .575 OPS in 71 plate appearances. He has struggled in the field, committing five throwing errors.
"I see it as a possibility that the reset button, the time down, could just make him feel better overall," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "I think he was already trending up. I think the swings were starting to get more consistent and more aggressive, and I think we saw yesterday and the day prior that the defense was a little bit more aggressive, too."
"There's always hope like that," Crawford said. "It happened last year so we'll see how it goes."
Crawford's injury does a few things. First, Maikel Franco and Scott Kingery are expected to play regularly at third base and shortstop, respectively. Second, Triple-A infielder Jesmuel Valentin finally made the 25-man roster. Valentin nearly made the Opening Day roster each of the past two springs, but fell just short.
Franco needs to take advantage of the regular playing time. He has started just 19 of the team's first 26 games. He is hitting .264 with three home runs, 19 RBIs and a .744 OPS in 80 plate appearances. It is no secret the Phillies plan to open their checkbook this offseason and pursue top-tier free agents, which could include shortstop Manny Machado or third baseman Josh Donaldson.
Franco needs to produce to keep his job beyond this season.
Kingery also could benefit from playing one position and having a set routine, even if he is not entirely comfortable at shortstop. After a hot start, Kingery has struggled at the plate. He is hitting .222 with two home runs, 13 RBIs and a .664 OPS in 89 plate appearances.
Kingery has played six positions. He said he does not think the position changes have affected him offensively, but he said playing regularly at one position will be nice.
"It's challenging to be bounced around like this," Kingery said. "I'm used to going to second base and batting leadoff for most of my professional career. I didn't even have to really look at a lineup. It's been a little bit of a different story for me this year. I don't know what the plan is from here, but if I get some consistent time at shortstop, that will give me a chance to get more comfortable out there and just learn and make it feel more natural."
Valentin lost a spot on the 2017 Opening Day roster to Daniel Nava. He lost a spot this season when the Phillies signed Kingery to a six-year, $24 million contract before Opening Day. Valentin got the call Saturday night while at a Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey game.
"Last night, I wasn't able to sleep," Valentin said. "Just thinking about all of those things and a lot of difficult situations that I've been through. All the hard work that I've been doing and now finally I'm sitting here, seeing that my dream came true, is just amazing to have to have this opportunity. It's really fun to be a part of a team like this."
But the hope is that whenever Crawford returns, he plays better. There has been plenty of focus on Franco's future with the team, but if Crawford's struggles continue the Phillies could look at Machado as possible solution at shortstop, too.
Kapler is confident Crawford will be better.
"We were encouraging J.P. to be the most athletic, loose and assertive version of himself," Kapler said. "Sometimes that comes with a mindset and that mindset for him was attack. Attack the baseball, attack the throws, be like J.P. playing wiffle ball. Does that make sense? We use that analogy a lot. Be like in your backyard playing wiffle ball. Attack the baseball the same way, without any fear."