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Neshek set for rehab assignment

Kapler confident Franco will make impact at third
Special to MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Pat Neshek, who hasn't pitched this season due to shoulder and forearm injuries, will begin a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Clearwater on Saturday. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler hasn't set a return date for Neshek.

Philadelphia placed Neshek on the disabled list when he felt right shoulder discomfort on Opening Day. About a month later, he suffered a mild flexor tendon strain in his right forearm while throwing a bullpen prior to starting a rehab assignment for his shoulder.

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WASHINGTON -- Pat Neshek, who hasn't pitched this season due to shoulder and forearm injuries, will begin a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Clearwater on Saturday. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler hasn't set a return date for Neshek.

Philadelphia placed Neshek on the disabled list when he felt right shoulder discomfort on Opening Day. About a month later, he suffered a mild flexor tendon strain in his right forearm while throwing a bullpen prior to starting a rehab assignment for his shoulder.

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The Phillies signed Neshek to a two-year, $16 million contract in December. The right-hander recorded a 1.59 ERA with 69 strikeouts and six walks in 71 appearances between the Phils and Rockies last season.

Philadelphia's bullpen has struggled this season, owning the fourth-worst ERA in the National League. The ninth inning has been a challenge, with Kapler choosing to rotate closers. Seven pitchers have recorded a save this season.

Neshek should help stabilize the relief corps, but the 37-year-old also doesn't have much experience closing, recording eight career saves. Regardless of his role, he should help the Phillies in their quest for the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Philadelphia found itself in second place and 2 1/2 games back of the Braves in the NL East after Friday night's 12-2 win against the Nationals at Nationals Park .

Kapler confident in Franco

Maikel Franco is hitting .146 with one home run and four RBIs in his past 16 games, but Kapler is confident Franco will improve and play a role with J.P. Crawford expected to miss between four and six weeks with a broken left hand.

Franco hit in the batting cages prior to Friday's game, trying to find an adjustment that will help him hit the ball in the air more often.

"[Franco's] 25 years old," Kapler said. "He's still developing. I still have a ton of confidence that he can put it all together and we can roll with [him], and we're doing everything in our power to access that player."

Franco is hitting .240 with 32 strikeouts, 14 walks and nine home runs this season. Franco hit 24 and 25 home runs the past two seasons, respectively.

Kapler is confident that Franco will regain his swing, but he wants the third baseman to take more walks and play better defense for him to become a regular at the hot corner.

"If you gave [Franco] 500 plate appearances, he's going to hit you 25 homers," Kapler said. "But that [isn't the only thing required of] a third baseman at the Major League level long term."

Worth noting

• The Phillies recalled left-handed pitcher Zac Curtis from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Friday to match up against Washington's talented left-handed hitters, such as Bryce Harper, Juan Soto and Daniel Murphy. Philadelphia optioned right-handed pitcher Jake Thompson to Lehigh Valley in a corresponding move.

Luis Garcia, who's been on the disabled list since June 16 with a right wrist strain, played catch before Friday's game.

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

Philadelphia Phillies, Maikel Franco, Pat Neshek