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Hoskins has sore shoulder; Cutch to bat leadoff

First baseman expected to be ready for Opening Day
@ToddZolecki
March 20, 2019

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Rhys Hoskins said there is no reason to worry, but he is battling “mild” soreness in his left shoulder. Hoskins is expected to be in the Opening Day lineup on March 28. “It’s not in question,” Hoskins said. “It’s nothing to worry about.” Hoskins said he first

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Rhys Hoskins said there is no reason to worry, but he is battling “mild” soreness in his left shoulder.

Hoskins is expected to be in the Opening Day lineup on March 28.

“It’s not in question,” Hoskins said. “It’s nothing to worry about.”

Hoskins said he first felt something after taking an “awkward swing” Sunday. An MRI exam Tuesday showed no structural damage.

“It’s a little sore, there’s a little inflammation,” he said. “Nothing to be worried about. We wanted to nip it in the bud before it got any worse.”

But the Phillies must prepare for the worst, too. In the event Hoskins cannot play, manager Gabe Kapler said that Maikel Franco will play first base. Franco has played nine games there in his big-league career. He has started six.

Franco is scheduled to play first base Friday night in a Grapefruit League game against the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

“This is more precautionary to make sure that he’s prepared for any scenario,” Kapler said. “He’s still a third baseman. He’s still going to play mostly third base.”

Cutch will hit leadoff
Andrew McCutchen
or Cesar Hernandez?

The Phillies have decided that they want McCutchen hitting leadoff in 2019.

It makes all the sense in the world. McCutchen has a unique combination of on-base and slugging skills, plus speed. He has a career .378 on-base percentage and .481 slugging percentage. His sprint speed is 28.7 feet per second, according to Statcast, which tied for 32nd out of 287 players last season (minimum 100 opportunities).

McCutchen posted a .414 on-base percentage hitting leadoff 49 times last season.

“I love his profile up there,” Kapler said. “I love his ability to see pitches. I love his history of on-base.”

Hernandez has a .366 on-base percentage the past three seasons, but a .390 slugging percentage.

If Hernandez had hit first, McCutchen might have hit as low as sixth. It just did not make sense to take one of the team’s best hitters and put him that low in the lineup. McCutchen has started 1,483 games in his career. He has hit lower than fourth in just 28 starts.

Kapler said Hernandez could hit sixth or seventh.

“I like the idea of Odubel [Herrera] and Hernandez in the middle of the lineup to give us a little bit of mix and match,” Kapler said. “But one of the things I’m fairly committed [to] is trying to create some consistency for these guys, especially because they have the capability to really flourish in these lineup spots.”

Yes, it means Kapler might use fewer lineups this season. Kapler said Hernandez, for example, prefers to know where he is hitting every day. Other batters feel the same.

“I’m not saying it’s going to happen for sure, but I’m going to do everything in my power to respect that,” Kapler said.

Pivetta shows off his stuff

Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta allowed three hits, three runs, two walks and one home run in five innings in a 3-1 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday. He struck out eight, impressing his manager in the process.

“Swings and misses, he threw breaking balls and sliders for strikes,” Kapler said. “His ceiling is really, really high. And obviously the stuff is on par with anybody in the league. One of the things we kept saying today was that’s A-plus, elite stuff.”

Kapler announced a couple weeks ago that Aaron Nola will start on Opening Day on March 28. He said Pivetta will pitch March 30 against the Braves and Jake Arrieta will pitch March 31 in the series finale. The March 31 game is on Sunday night.

Harper schedule

Bryce Harper is not scheduled to play Friday, but he is scheduled to play Saturday, Sunday and Monday in the spring’s final three Grapefruit League games.

Abreu selected to Wall of Fame

The Phillies announced that outfielder Bobby Abreu has been selected to their Wall of Fame.

Abreu played nine of his 18 seasons in the big leagues with the Phillies (1998-2006). He hit .303 with 348 doubles, 195 home runs, 814 RBIs, 254 stolen bases, a .416 on-base percentage and a .513 slugging percentage. Abreu made the National League All-Star team twice (2004-05), won a Gold Glove (2005) and a Silver Slugger Award (2004).

Abreu will be inducted on Aug. 3 as part of alumni weekend, which will feature the 10-year reunion of the 2009 National League championship team.

Up next

Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez (0-2, 18.00 ERA) will face Blue Jays right-hander Sam Gaviglio (1-0, 1.29 ERA) on Thursday afternoon in a Grapefruit League game at Spectrum Field.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .