PHILADELPHIA -- Nobody can replace Rhys Hoskins’ bat in the Phillies lineup, but J.T. Realmuto will take his place at first base.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi revealed on Friday that Realmuto will play some first base the rest of the season, following Thursday’s news that Hoskins will have season-ending surgery to repair a torn abdomen. It is unclear how often Realmuto will play there in the season's final five weeks.
“Keeps his bat in the lineup more,” the skipper said.
But Realmuto’s move to first might not only be a way to get Realmuto off his feet. It might allow him to rest a shoulder that has been bothering him. Teammate Jean Segura said after Friday night's 7-6 win over the D-backs in 11 innings that Realmuto is playing through something at the moment.
Realmuto could start at first base on Saturday night against the D-backs. Girardi said Rafael Marchan will catch. Andrew Knapp was scheduled to start Friday and possibly would have started Saturday, too, but he was placed on the COVID-19 injured list before the game. Knapp is fully vaccinated, so he had a breakthrough case.
Knapp is expected to miss 10 days. Girardi said Knapp’s trip to the IL does not change plans for Realmuto.
Realmuto has played 40 games at first base in the big leagues. He has started 20 games there, most recently twice in 2020.
Girardi said Alec Bohm was not an option to play first base. The Phillies optioned him to Triple-A on Sunday because of his defensive struggles at third. Bohm played first base 14 times the past two seasons.
Theoretically, he could have provided a boost to an offense that needs help.
“Keeping him at third,” Girardi said about why they did not consider Bohm. “We consider him a third baseman.”
While Realmuto’s move to first could soften the blow of losing Hoskins, it also drops the offensive production at catcher. Knapp has a .431 OPS in 136 plate appearances this season, while Marchan has a .485 OPS in 223 plate appearances in Triple-A.
So, how do the Phillies score enough runs to win?
“Well, don’t give up runs, that’s how you get enough runs, don’t give up runs,” Girardi said. “We’re going to have to pitch and we’re going to have to have some guys have a good month, a good 5 1/2 or six weeks, whatever we’ve got left.”
Is that a tall ask?
“I like our pitching,” Girardi said. “I like what we run out there every day, I do. I know we have some people that are beat up that we were counting on. We have a guy out for the year that we were counting on. Hey, you’ve got to deal with it. There’s no other way but to fight.”