Hoskins: Opening Day not out of the picture

Harper to report Tuesday, Phillies bulk up in offseason

February 22nd, 2021

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Rhys Hoskins let loose a little bit Monday at Spectrum Field.

He launched a few home runs during a couple rounds of batting practice during the Phillies’ first full-squad workout. One ball landed on the concrete pathway beyond the bullpens in left field. Another clanged off the left-field foul pole.

“I let it fly a little bit,” Hoskins said afterward. “Just to kind of make sure that it’s still in there. It’s always nice to remind yourself, especially in batting practice. Yeah, it felt pretty good today.”

It felt pretty good because Hoskins had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left elbow in October. The original timetable had him returning anywhere between early February to early April. But after receiving medical clearance this week -- he passed a final defensive test, which had him diving for baseballs -- Hoskins said he expects to be in the Phillies’ Opening Day lineup on April 1 against Atlanta.

“There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be,” Hoskins said. “But we’re going to use these next four or five days before games start to try to get the rep count up, get it a little bit more normalized, and as long as I can get the amount of at-bats that I’m used to in Spring Training, which should be no problem, I don’t think Opening Day is out of the picture.”

It would be a huge boost to the Phillies’ lineup. Hoskins has hit 91 home runs since his big league debut in Aug. 2017. Only 11 players have homered more in that span.

“I feel normal,” Hoskins said. “It gets a little bit sore at night, but nothing that’s there the next day. That’s pretty encouraging going forward. I feel pretty normal. It’s a good place to be.

“Now it’s just about getting the reps I need in spring.”

Said Phillies manager Joe Girardi: “Where Rhys is at, I’m thrilled. We’ll continue to get him more reps so he’s comfortable and maybe a few extra live BPs. Sometimes when you go through a long gruesome rehab like he does, sometimes you feel like the rest of your body gets neglected, but it did not. I’m really pleased.”

Harper to arrive Tuesday
Bryce Harper was not in uniform on Monday, because of the timing of his COVID-19 intake test, Girardi said. Harper is expected to be in uniform on Tuesday.

Didi Gregorius is not in camp because of visa issues, along with a host of other players from outside the United States. Girardi hopes Gregorius will arrive in the next couple days.

Harder Better Faster Stronger
Alec Bohm, Adam Haseley and Rafael Marchan added muscle in the offseason. More muscle for Bohm might mean more power.

“A lot of times what comes with that is you hit balls harder and when you hit balls harder sometimes you’re even more productive,” Girardi said. “And he was really productive last year. I thought he looked really good.”

Girardi said Andrew McCutchen is moving better than he did last year. McCutchen had left ACL surgery in 2019.

“That’s exciting as well,” Girardi said.

Extra bases
• Girardi still sees the Phillies opening the season with an eight-man bullpen and a five-man rotation. “I’m thinking of 13 [position players] and 13 [players], but I guess I’m allowed to change my mind,” he said.

• Aaron Nola, Ivan Nova, David Hale and Bryan Mitchell threw live BP to Phillies catchers. Each tossed about 22-24 pitches, simulating an inning of work.