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Kingery's defensive versatility key for Phillies

@MannyOnMLB
April 20, 2019

DENVER -- Scott Kingery made his first start of the season on April 8 against the Nationals, going 3-for-4 with three singles while playing second base in the Phillies' 4-3 victory at Citizens Bank Park. It was the start of a hot streak that he brought to Colorado on Thursday,

DENVER -- Scott Kingery made his first start of the season on April 8 against the Nationals, going 3-for-4 with three singles while playing second base in the Phillies' 4-3 victory at Citizens Bank Park. It was the start of a hot streak that he brought to Colorado on Thursday, batting .480 (12-for-25) with four doubles and two homers since his first start.

Though Kingery went 0-for-4 in Thursday's loss to the Rockies, the question facing the Phillies is: Where will he continue to get plate appearances given the continual roster shuffling going on, particularly as a result of injured starters getting healthy?

Kingery is defensively versatile, so that's not an issue. It's the crowded group of starting position players that makes the situation a quandary.

Kingery played most of his rookie season last year at shortstop, but also saw time at second and third base, as well as in the outfield. He's been at each of those positions already this year as well, currently filling in for an injured Jean Segura at short. But Kingery was bit by the injury bug in his own right during Friday's 4-3 loss to Colorado, departing with a right hamstring strain.

"There's some degree to which we'd look for opportunities to just get guys off their feet, kind of like what we did last year," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I think there's more of a need to get him in the lineup because of how well he's performing, and it's less of a 'Let's get him reps [defensively] and keep him fresh' kind of thing, and more of a 'This helps us win' thing."

With Segura (strained left hamstring) potentially back in the starting lineup as soon as Sunday, according to Kapler, and center fielder Odubel Herrera on the 10-day injured list (strained right hamstring), Kingery can move between shortstop and center field. But when everyone's healthy, including Maikel Franco at third, finding a spot for the hot-hitting Kingery becomes more challenging.

Kapler said that for the foreseeable future, Kingery will appear at short, third and even second base from time to time, as well as in the outfield to get his bat in the lineup.

Kingery has only played 1 2/3 innings in center during his professional career so far, but Kapler said he "can comfortably say that [Kingery] will go out in center field and immediately play average to above-average center field, simply because of his athleticism and his speed."

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.