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Hoskins on track to be ready for Opening Day

Slugger has not played since March 17 due to left shoulder soreness
March 24, 2019

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Battling what’s been described as left shoulder soreness, Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins is still on track to be ready for Opening Day, manager Gabe Kapler said Sunday. “He’s experiencing a steady improvement, but there’s still a little bit of soreness in his shoulder,” Kapler said.

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Battling what’s been described as left shoulder soreness, Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins is still on track to be ready for Opening Day, manager Gabe Kapler said Sunday.

“He’s experiencing a steady improvement, but there’s still a little bit of soreness in his shoulder,” Kapler said.

Prior to Philadelphia's 11-4 win against the Orioles on Sunday, Hoskins was on one of the side fields at Clearwater’s Carpenter Complex taking a round of batting practice. He then went to the batting cages to keep taking swings off a high-velocity machine.

“I felt good in BP," Hoskins said. "A couple swings that I felt it, but I think the point of the BP was to let it fly a little bit and try to be as close to game speed as possible."

Hoskins added that it has been frustrating to have the discomfort linger, but said he is optimistic with where he is at in the process.

“It’s just the nature of these kinds of things, I’m being told,” Hoskins said. “The doctor and the trainers said they’re happy with the progression that’s been made, and so am I.”

As for now, Hoskins is expected to play in Monday afternoon’s Spring Training finale against the Rays, which would put him on track to suit up for Opening Day.

“The most important and encouraging thing is he’s continuing to experience steady improvement,” Kapler said. “It’s just some left shoulder soreness.”

There was originally hope that Hoskins would be available to play in Sunday’s game, but Kapler dismissed any notion that the injury might be worse than originally let on.

“There’s nothing acute or anything like that,” Kapler said. “It’s just that Rhys is very important to us and to our season, and we are always going to lean on the side of caution, especially as we are so close to Opening Day. We just want to allow him to continue to improve.”

Herrera has big day with bat

While each player certainly wants to wrap up Spring Training by being healthy and swinging the bat well, it was particularly key for Phillies outfielder Odúbel Herrera.

Having dealt with a lingering hamstring injury that kept him out of Grapefruit League action until March 16, Herrera went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs in Sunday's win against Baltimore.

Kapler said that each facet of Herrera’s game looks good, especially considering how much time he missed.

“I think he looks good at the plate, good running the bases too and definitely looks good to me in the outfield,” Kapler said. “What stood out to me was the jumps, reads, routes to the ball and, what really stands out to me, is the engagement.”

And if the focus can remain, on top of feeling healthy, Herrera has his skipper excited for what's to come.

“It’s interesting how his performance coincides with his engagement so strongly,” Kapler said. “When he’s locked in from every angle, he just plays great baseball, and I think that’s what’s happening right now for him.”

Herrera should benefit from playing alongside a pair of former National League Most Valuable Player Award winners in Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen.

Kapler stressed that the coaching staff has challenged Herrera to maintain his focus, and even while he has been hurt for most of camp, the outfielder has done just that.

“While he was hurt, he was still working,” Kapler said. “He kept working on his timing in the cage, kept working in the weight room, was doing all of his prep work. ... He’s worked on himself from every angle, and I think that’s part of the reason he hit the ground running when he got in the batter’s box.”

Bullpen plan coming into focus

Late Saturday night, Philadelphia optioned relievers Vìctor Arano and Yacksel Ríos to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, providing more clarity on what the club plans to do with the bullpen.

It was already known Tommy Hunter would begin the year on the injured list, leaving the eighth reliever slot open. With the pair of moves on Saturday, it would seem to indicate that Edubray Ramos has secured that final spot in the bullpen.

Ramos entered Sunday with a 6.75 ERA over 6 2/3 innings this spring, though he has racked up eight strikeouts to just one walk.

With the team still mum on how the bullpen will be sorted out, there are other avenues that the Phillies could still consider. With four off-days over the first 15 days of the regular season, the club could buy some time by using starter Vince Velasquez in a relief role. Alternatively, while other teams still sort out their own bullpens, there’s always a possibility of acquiring another arm via a waiver claim or a minor trade.

For his part, Arano struggled mightily this spring, surrendering 20 earned runs in just four innings, while striking out only one batter. He admitted after Saturday’s outing that his mechanics, particularly on how he’s gripping the ball on his slider, may be off.

Rios, meanwhile, pitched 11 innings in Grapefruit League action, allowing just one run with seven strikeouts to two walks. But after a shaky 2018 that saw him finish with a 6.75 ERA over 36 appearances, the Phillies elected not to place him on the Opening Day roster.

Up next

In the final tuneup for Opening Day, Jake Arrieta will be on the bump in Clearwater for a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Rays. Arrieta will look to get on track after allowing seven earned runs over eight innings in his three spring starts thus far.