PHILADELPHIA -- Scott Kingery’s 2022 can only be better than his 2021.
Kingery had season-ending surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. The Phillies hope that he will be ready to play by Spring Training in February or March, but it is too early to tell. Regardless, Kingery’s surgery ends a disappointing year.
Kingery got optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in Spring Training after entering camp as the favorite to win the everyday job in center field, then cleared waivers and was outrighted to the IronPigs in June, removing him from the 40-man roster only three years after the Phillies signed him to a six-year, $24 million contract before he played an inning in the big leagues.
“You would think that it would have the opposite effect where you can kind of relax and just play baseball,” Kingery said in June about his contract. “But I’m the kind of guy who wants to prove that the contract was the right call and I was given it because I can live up to it. That’s something that’s always in the back of your mind. You try not to think about it. It was an unprecedented deal and it’s something that’s always in the back of your head.”
Kingery, 27, batted .053 (1-for-19) with 12 strikeouts with the Phillies this season. He batted .159 (18-for-113) with a .511 OPS in 2020.
In four seasons overall, he has slashed a combined .229/.280/.387.
The Phillies outrighted Kingery in June because he was trying to change his swing from an uppercut to a more neutral path through the zone. It was a struggle. He batted .181 (13-for-72) with five RBIs and a .598 OPS with the IronPigs.
But Kingery welcomed the opportunity to play every day.
“I wasn’t surprised when it happened,” Kingery said. “In my head, I’m like, 'If I go down there, it’s not the end of the world.”
Eventually, Kingery and the Phillies hope Kingery rediscovers himself. He is owed $6 million in 2022 and $8 million in 2023, with a $1 million buyout on a $13 million club option in 2024. At the time the Phillies negotiated the contract, they thought they would be getting tremendous bang for their buck. Now, they just hope Kingery gives them some value.
“He just needs to go out and play,” Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said in June, “and play and play and play. And hopefully he comes back. Because we still love a lot of his ability. We just want him to hit.”