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Nos. game: Neshek jokes, but Rhys keeps 17

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Rhys Hoskins fans can enjoy the holidays knowing that he will be wearing No. 17 next season.

Phillies relief pitcher Pat Neshek gave fans a brief holiday scare last week when he thanked Hoskins in a tweet for giving him his old jersey number back. Neshek, whom the Phils signed to a two-year contract, wore No. 17 when he pitched for Philadelphia last season before he was traded to Colorado in July. The Phillies gave No. 17 to Hoskins when he joined the team on Aug. 10. Hoskins then mashed 18 home runs in 50 games, finishing fourth in National League Rookie of the Year Award voting.

PHILADELPHIA -- Rhys Hoskins fans can enjoy the holidays knowing that he will be wearing No. 17 next season.

Phillies relief pitcher Pat Neshek gave fans a brief holiday scare last week when he thanked Hoskins in a tweet for giving him his old jersey number back. Neshek, whom the Phils signed to a two-year contract, wore No. 17 when he pitched for Philadelphia last season before he was traded to Colorado in July. The Phillies gave No. 17 to Hoskins when he joined the team on Aug. 10. Hoskins then mashed 18 home runs in 50 games, finishing fourth in National League Rookie of the Year Award voting.

Video: Hoskins sets record with 18 homers in first 34 games

Neshek jokingly tweeted on Dec. 14:

Tweet from @PatNeshek: Thanks @rhyshoskins for giving #17 back...I'll sign up a dozen balls for ya and get them out to you in the next week or so

Of course, people who had just purchased Hoskins' No. 17 jersey or T-shirt as a gift suddenly panicked.

Oh no! Did Hoskins just change his number? What number is he wearing? Can I exchange the old jersey for the new jersey? Can I get a refund? Can I get Hoskins' new jersey before Christmas? My husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/child/Secret Santa is going to be so bummed!

Twenty-two minutes later, Neshek sent a follow-up tweet:

Tweet from @PatNeshek: Alright that went on long enough...did you really think I would do this? Enjoy #17 Rhys! I'll go find another random #

And he added a third tweet 40 minutes later:

Tweet from @PatNeshek: Man the calls to the team store are going to be really confusing tomorrow.

It is unclear if the team store actually received any phone calls about it, but everybody from the Phillies to apparel licensees heard about it and asked around. Did Hoskins, the Phils' most marketable player, really change numbers? If so, what would the next step be?

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Perhaps it is why Neshek tweeted again last Friday:

Tweet from @PatNeshek: From Yesterday - I'm not #17, RHYS IS STILL #17...your Xmas presents are safe please retweet to help out other fans that don't get the joke.

And Hoskins added:

Tweet from @rhyshoskins: Looks like @PatNeshek had some fun on Twitter last night😂 Stoked to see you back in the red pinstripes & that I dont have to face you! #17

Not many baseball fans know this, but it is very difficult for players to change numbers. In fact, there are rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement about it. Players are not allowed to change their number for the following season unless the request is made to Major League Baseball no later than July 31. The only exceptions are if a player changes teams following the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline or if the player (or someone on his behalf) purchases the existing inventory of the player's number by authorized apparel licensees.

Video: Zolecki on Phillies adding Neshek, bolstering bullpen

Yes, the only way Hoskins could have changed numbers is if he (or Neshek) purchased every single piece of unsold merchandise with Hoskins' name and number on it. That is every piece of merchandise at the ballpark, brick-and-mortar stores and online warehouses.

It is difficult to know the exact amount of merchandise Hoskins would have needed to purchase, but it probably is a very low estimate to say it would be at least $100,000.

Chase Utley once considered changing his number from No. 26 to No. 7, and Cole Hamels once considered changing his number from No. 35 to No. 19, but both were told that their jerseys were selling incredibly well, so they kept their numbers the rest of their Phillies careers.

So happy holidays to those Hoskins fans out there. Wear that No. 17 jersey to Spring Training.

Neshek tweeted that he planned to take No. 41, again joking because that is newly signed Carlos Santana's number. Neshek will wear No. 93.

Tweet from @PatNeshek: Hmmm...taking #41 should be safe to take...nobody would want that right

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Philadelphia Phillies, Rhys Hoskins, Pat Neshek