Knapp impressing, seeing more at-bats

July 5th, 2017

PHILADELPHIA -- opened the season as the Phillies' No. 1 catcher, but rookie has played more frequently of late.
Knapp has started seven of the previous 10 games, including in Wednesday's 5-2 loss against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park, and 18 of the previous 33.
"I wouldn't call him my primary catcher," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said of Knapp. "I'm giving him more playing time because he's made a better impression than I thought he would. He's handled himself well defensively, that's the main thing. And he's contributing with some hits here and there. And Rupp really isn't swinging the bat well right now. He's a little bit lost at where he's at, so I'm going to take advantage of that."
Knapp is hitting .261 with five doubles, one triple, three home runs, 11 RBIs and a .772 OPS in 131 plate appearances. Rupp is hitting .205 with eight doubles, five homers, 14 RBIs and a .643 OPS in 190 plate appearances.
Eickhoff, Velasquez returning soon
and Vince Velasquez could rejoin the Phillies' rotation in the coming days and weeks.
Eickhoff is expected to start Sunday's game against the Padres at Citizens Bank Park. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since June 21 because of a strained upper back. He made a rehab start Tuesday with Double-A Reading and it went well.
Velasquez has been on the DL since May 31 with a strained flexor in his right elbow. He is scheduled to make two more rehab starts, including one Thursday, and could rejoin the rotation sometime after the All-Star break.
Velasquez will continue to start in the second half, although Mackanin said he and the coaching staff have kicked around the idea of Velasquez moving to the bullpen. Velasquez is 2-5 with a 5.58 ERA in 10 starts this season. Many have thought Velasquez's power arm would be effective in the bullpen, but the Phillies can make that transition any time. They likely want to see if Velasquez can click as a starter first.
"I don't think there's any plans to put him in the bullpen right now," Mackanin said.
Kendrick's hammy
has a Grade 1 strained left hamstring. The Phillies remain hopeful he can rejoin the team following the All-Star break. They certainly hope so with the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching.
Extra bases
• Double-A third baseman Mitch Walding, Class A Advanced Clearwater left-hander JoJo Romero and Reading outfielder Carlos Tocci have been named the Phillies' Minor League hitter, pitcher and defensive player of the month, respectively
• Mackanin said shortstop wants to play 162 games this season. He has started every game at shortstop to date.