Phils position battles continue at 3B, CF

Kingery, Franco competing at hot corner; Odubel the favorite in center

March 14th, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler opened Spring Training last month saying that and would compete for playing time at third base, while , and would compete for playing time in center field.

Nobody has won those jobs yet.

Franco entered camp as the favorite at third base. He had not played since Friday because of the flu, but he returned to the lineup Wednesday night to be the designated hitter in a 5-5 tie with the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. He went 2-for-5 and is now batting .233 (7-for-30) with one double, one home run, six RBIs and a .648 OPS. Kingery, who was in the lineup at third base, hit a two-run homer in the fourth. He is batting .212 (7-for-33) with one double, one triple, one home run, three RBIs and a .651 OPS.

“We’re taking a wait-and-see approach with both of those guys. It’s a little early,” Kapler said. “Definitely taking it slowly, want to see more, want to see both of them compete and bring their highest energy levels every day.”

Herrera is scheduled to DH in his first Grapefruit League game Saturday against the Astros at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. He has been sidelined since last month because of a Grade 1 strain in his left hamstring, but he got five plate appearances Wednesday at Carpenter Complex.

He is expected to be ready by Opening Day.

“I still see it as a fight for reps in center field right now,” Kapler said. “Odubel needs to ensure that he's healthy and that he's physically capable of taking down a big load in center field. Also, we're interested in his at-bats, his defense, his baserunning, his ability to show us that he's healthy. He's a complete player, will provide a lot of reassurance for us. That's what we're looking for from him.”

Quinn has not played this spring because of a strained right oblique. He is further out than Herrera, according to Kapler. It would not be a surprise to see Quinn open the season on the injured list. Altherr, who went 1-for-3 vs. the Yankees, is batting .273 (6-for-22) with one double, four RBIs and a .732 OPS. He is looking to rebound from a rough 2018.

Nick Williams, who is a man without a position with Bryce Harper in right field and Andrew McCutchen in left field, is not a candidate to play center.

“I'm confident that the right players will emerge out there in center field and that they'll hit the ground running,” Kapler said. “That's why it's nice to have a collection of guys battling for that playing time.”

The best bet is Franco and Herrera get the starting nod on March 28 against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

Then again, everybody thought Herrera would be in the Opening Day lineup last season. He wasn’t.

But at the very least, the Phillies should have a full-strength lineup against the Braves. Second baseman Cesar Hernandez is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut Thursday against the Pirates in Bradenton. He has been sidelined with a strained right hip flexor. He also had five plate appearances Wednesday at Carpenter Complex.

“That's a realistic scenario for us, to have both of those guys on our Opening Day roster, ready to go, fully healthy, timing where it needs to be, feet underneath them,” Kapler said about Herrera and Hernandez.