Dombrowski addresses Phils' post-Hoskins plan; Hall likely to assume 1B
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- After the probable season-ending injury to Rhys Hoskins on Thursday, Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said on Friday morning that the club is preparing for Darick Hall to become the everyday first baseman as the regular season draws closer.
Dombrowski said that Hoskins, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the second inning of Thursday’s Grapefruit League game against the Tigers, will seek a second opinion, but he would be “shocked’’ if the process doesn’t involve immediate surgery and a rehabilitation period of more than seven months.
The non-contact injury, which occurred when Hoskins tried to field a high-hopping grounder, stunned the Phillies’ clubhouse. After Hoskins crumpled onto the grass in short right field, his teammates knelt by his side before he was taken off the field in a cart. Afterward, the stone-faced players spoke in hushed tones about Hoskins, who has averaged 30 home runs in the four full seasons since 2018 and generally serves as the club’s spokesman and inspirational leader.
Hall, a 6-foot-4, 232-pound left-handed hitter, smacked nine home runs and batted .250 in 41 Major League games last season. The 27-year-old has displayed power throughout his Minor League career, including 28 homers and 88 RBIs in 101 games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Hall was batting .319 this spring with five homers and 11 RBIs in 16 games heading into Friday night’s contest against the Blue Jays. He would have preferred to increase his playing time through another method, but he says he’s grateful for any opportunities.
“I feel like I’m ready to step up and help this team and have a major role,’’ Hall said before Friday night’s Grapefruit League game against the Blue Jays at TD Ballpark, where he opened at designated hitter in the lineup. “I’m just excited for this year with this team. It’s never been a better time to be part of this organization.’’
Hall said he was still a bit shaken over witnessing the injury to Hoskins.
“It was really unfortunate,’’ Hall said. “He’s a great guy and a great teammate. It was just the feeling of watching a guy [everyone] likes and just the kind of sorrow when something like that happens, a freak accident.
“When something like that happens, it strikes the heart of every athlete I know, just that feeling of trying to get healthy and still climbing that mountain. I’ve never seen anything like that. It was a non-contact injury. What was weird was there was no twisting of the foot. Maybe he just had so much force on one leg. It was just a terrible thing.’’
Dombrowski said that he and the Phillies’ staff already had Friday afternoon meetings previously scheduled to discuss mix-and-match possibilities for the final roster composition.
“There are a lot of topics to discuss, and this will give us an extra topic,’’ Dombrowski said. “But I do feel comfortable saying we like Darick Hall a lot. We feel he’ll get the majority of playing time at first. We think he’s ready to step up and be a big league player.
“You can always get better, and you keep your options open. But we are comfortable with Darick. He worked with us in Arizona with Kevin Long over the long haul in the winter. Kevin said Darick was getting better and better all the time, closing his holes at the plate. He’s a good solid first baseman. He’s a big guy. He catches the ball. He has a good arm. He’s always had power. We felt comfortable even last year that he could play at the big league level.’’
Another first-base option is to slide over third baseman Alec Bohm, a right-handed batter, against lefties. The Phillies could then cover third with versatile platoon players, such as Edmundo Sosa or Josh Harrison.
“I think we’re open to a lot of things at this point,’’ Dombrowski said. “[Hoskins' injury] just happened last night, so we haven’t even had a chance to talk to our players about some of the scenarios that could exist.’’
One thing seems certain, though. The Phillies must move forward without Hoskins, who will become a free agent after this season. Dombrowski would not speculate whether Hoskins has played his final game in a Phillies uniform, but he acknowledged Hoskins' immediate absence will be felt greatly.
“It’s very unfortunate for him and for us … and I really feel for him,’’ Dombrowski said. “He’s the ultimate gamer. He’s a strong individual and he sort of takes things matter-of-factly in the sense that, ‘OK, I’ve got to tackle this and I’ll come out of the other side.’ But, of course, he was downtrodden, which is understandable.
“He’s in great shape. He has been having a good spring. He’s a stalwart, a guy who is like the backbone of an organization. He’s very consistent, and basically you can round it to 30 home runs and 80 to 100 RBIs. He’s respected in the clubhouse and he’s a pillar in the community. He’s what we’re all about -- determined, a winner, a championship-type player.’’
Dombrowski said the Phillies’ injuries -- most prominently, Hoskins’ ACL tear and Bryce Harper’s Tommy John surgery, which could keep him out until the All-Star break -- haven’t dampened his confidence in the club’s plans to remain a National League contender.
“We’ve got a good club, and you’re always going to have to deal with some issues,’’ Dombrowski said. “We will get guys back during the year, some of them very quickly. I think we’re deep enough from a player perspective [to weather injuries]. It’s a good group.’’