FT. MYERS, Fla. -- Maybe this is finally the season that nobody ever asks Scott Kingery how much he wishes he could play second base.
Maybe he finally just plays there.
Kingery homered and played shortstop Thursday in a 12-5 victory over the Red Sox in a Grapefruit League game at jetBlue Park, but he has spent most of the spring at second base while the Phillies try out Jean Segura at third. If Segura can handle it, he is expected to play there during the season, allowing Kingery to play his best and most natural position.
“It’s somewhere I wished eventually I would get back to,” Kingery said. “I have fun playing second base. I think my skillset really plays well there.”
The Phillies touted Kingery as a super-utility player during the past two seasons. He started 113 games at shortstop, 57 in center field and 45 at third base. He started just eight at second base.
No wonder it felt a little strange returning to the right side of the infield this spring.
“Everything has started to come back,” he said.
Kingery said he thinks staying at one position can help him later in the season. Instead of tiring himself out, running around the infield and outfield taking reps before every game, he can focus on one group. That could help him maintain his strength and swing in the season’s final months.
“I could show up, not have to look at the lineup and know that if I need to take a day off of ground balls or something, I could,” he said, “because I’ve been playing that one position every game.”
That would be a good thing for everybody.
“When you’re playing all over the place,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said, “you’ve got to work on your defense all the time. [This] should be better for him.”
Pivetta flashes some promise
Nick Pivetta’s proudest moment in Thursday’s start came in the bottom of the third inning. After he walked Andrew Benintendi on four pitches and spiked a first-pitch curveball into the dirt that bounced into Jackie Bradley Jr. to put runners on first and second with one out, he struck out J.D. Martinez looking on a 2-2 fastball.
He threw a fastball up, then a fastball down and away to retire Martinez.
“I was happy that I was able to throw him a fastball up -- and not throw a curveball down [for the third strike],” Pivetta said. “I went fastball away and really froze him. That really attributes to what we’re focused on here in camp, which is working down in the zone, using our fastballs, using our strengths. My strength is my fastball.”
Pivetta allowed one hit, one run and one walk in 2 2/3 innings. He struck out five, including Martinez twice. It was a nice step in Pivetta’s push to be the team’s No. 5 starter. Girardi said that competition might begin after one more turn through the rotation. But everybody is watching what is happening early, too.
“You take into account more good than bad,” Girardi said. “Bad, you chalk up to rustiness. Good, you’re like, ‘Oh, OK, that might work.”
Pivetta at least appears to be in a different headspace this spring. He seems more positive and more focused on the task at hand.
“Obviously we all weren’t happy with the way that things ended last year,” he said. “We’re professional athletes, and we really care about what we do. We want to win. So just getting that [offseason] break, relaxing, thinking about it, analyzing it, taking that body of work of what happened last year, [dealing] with your failures and moving that forward to this year to work on those failures -- I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola makes his second start of the spring Friday at 1:05 p.m. ET in a Grapefruit League game against the Braves at Spectrum Field. Nola is expected to be the team’s Opening Day starter, although no announcement has yet been made.