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Realmuto makes spot start at first base

Kapler gets creative to keep catcher's hot bat in lineup
@jessicacamerato
August 20, 2019

BOSTON -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler wanted to give J.T. Realmuto a break. He also wanted to keep his bat in the lineup. The solution: Realmuto played first base in Tuesday's series opener against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. "The main goal there was to get J.T. two days

BOSTON -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler wanted to give J.T. Realmuto a break. He also wanted to keep his bat in the lineup. The solution: Realmuto played first base in Tuesday's series opener against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

"The main goal there was to get J.T. two days not behind the plate," Kapler said. "So there was some consideration given to the day prior to the off-day [Monday] J.T. not playing, and maybe that would've been good for him as well. I didn't feel comfortable not playing J.T. in that game [on Sunday against the Padres]."

Entering Tuesday, Realmuto had played in 118 of the Phillies' 124 games this season. He was behind the plate in 106 of them, and also pinch-hit in 12, was the designated hitter in one and played first in one.

"He and I were completely aligned," Kapler said. "I said, 'In exchange for you playing today, I want to get you off your feet for two consecutive days -- first day being the natural off day, second day obviously being him playing first base."

By shifting to first base instead of getting the day off, Realmuto has another opportunity to stay hot at the plate. He entered the game batting .417 with four home runs, nine RBIs, four doubles and five runs in his last six games. Realmuto also is hitting .407 with two homers in six career games against the Red Sox.

"In this particular case, he's been swinging the bat so well. He has to stay in the lineup," Kapler said. "I want to keep him feeling good about himself. He's also an athletic first baseman who you just don't lose much by putting him over there. So for all those reasons, it felt like the right fit."

Kapler confident in Hoskins as leadoff

Rhys Hoskins remained in the leadoff spot on Tuesday as he works through an 0-for-12 skid amid a month in which he's batting .105. He hit leadoff for the first game of his career last Wednesday.

"He can't control where the ball goes off the bat," Kapler said. "Right now, we need somebody to lead the game off. Quite frankly, [I] don't really care how this is interpreted. He's good in that spot. He sees pitches. You lead off the game one time during the game. And in that time, he is well suited to work a pitcher, to grind a pitcher and to see pitches so that all of his teammates are watching and see which pitches the opposing starting pitcher has that day."

Hoskins has swung the bat well against the Red Sox in their small sample size of meetings. He is batting .333 with a home run in four games facing the defending World Series champions, and .375 over the two games he had played at Fenway Park.

Determining Nola's schedule

The Phillies could keep ace Aaron Nola on a five-day schedule. In doing so, Nola would be slated to start the final game of the regular season on Sept. 29 against the Marlins. Kapler said the club would discuss the plan after Nola's start on Tuesday, but that the right-hander could start on Sunday, as the team is off on Thursday.

"I'm comfortable going as far to say that that's likely," Kapler said of Nola starting again on Sunday.

Jessica Camerato is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato.