Moniak (right hand) focused on recovery: 'Life's not fair'

April 8th, 2022

PHILADELPHIA --  would have been in the Phillies’ Opening Day lineup on Friday. He would have hit ninth, behind rookie third baseman .

But that changed after Moniak was hit by a pitch on his right hand in Wednesday’s Grapefruit League finale against the Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Initial X-rays were negative, but when Moniak showed up to the ballpark Thursday with the palm of his hand severely bruised, the Phillies sent him for a CT scan, which revealed a hairline fracture.

Moniak will miss four to six weeks.

“It’s tough,” Moniak said before Friday's opener against the Athletics. “Just having a good spring and feeling ready for the season, and then having that happen the last game of the spring, it's something you never hope for. Yesterday, definitely took some time to process it, take a step back and let the emotions flow through. And wake up today and move forward and try to figure out what I need to do to get this hand right, and what I can do on a daily basis to make sure my body's ready to come back in four to six weeks or whatever.”

Moniak appeared to be blocked in the outfield by Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber, Odúbel Herrera, Matt Vierling and Adam Haseley this spring. But Herrera suffered a mild strain of his right oblique early in camp and he opened the season on the 10-day injured list. The Phillies traded Haseley to the White Sox on March 29 for Minor League pitcher McKinley Moore.

Meanwhile, Moniak batted .378 (14-for-37) with four doubles, six home runs, 11 RBIs and a 1.351 OPS in the Grapefruit League.

“It’s crazy,” Moniak said. “[In the] last six years, lot of ups and downs, lot of learning moments, I think. Last year, especially, was something that I look back on and kind of draw from in situations like this. Life's not fair. I think you're going to have your ups and downs, it's never going to be perfect. It may seem like bad timing, but I'm a firm believer in God's timing is always perfect. I believe everything happens for a reason. The only thing to do now is to move forward and keep moving forward. I've kind of done that my whole career. I'm not going to stop now.”

The Phillies promoted Double-A Reading outfielder Simon Muzziotti to take Moniak’s place on the 28-man roster. Muzziotti, 23, is Philadelphia’s No. 22 prospect, but he has just 83 plate appearances over the last two seasons due to the Minor League season being canceled in 2020 and visa issues in '21.

Herrera could take Muzziotti’s place at some point. The former is scheduled to play in a game on Saturday in Clearwater, Fla., though he is probably at least a couple weeks away from being ready for big league action.

In the meantime, Muzziotti will play when Vierling is not in center field.

“We think he's a really good-looking player and prospect,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said of Muzziotti. “I thought he had a good Spring Training. But when you play 23 out of 24 days [to start the season], you can't run one guy out there the whole time where he's going to break. So try not to give him too much heads up. I'm sure there's a lot of anticipation, but I'll let him know which day he's going out there.”

He expects Muzziotti to be nervous when he does finally play.

“Every one of us has been through that,” Girardi said. “Even until this day, I remember getting nervous every Opening Day, right? That's the bottom line. But I was extremely nervous my first Opening Day. I tell him those butterfly feelings just mean that you really care. And that's a good thing. If you weren't nervous, I'd be more worried.”