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Notes: Kingery on struggles; JoJo called up

@ToddZolecki
August 14, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Scott Kingery entered Spring Training excited to finally play second base on an everyday basis. He expected big things. The Phillies did, too. “Super excited,” Kingery said of his feelings during the spring before Friday night’s series opener against the Mets. But then the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled Spring

PHILADELPHIA -- Scott Kingery entered Spring Training excited to finally play second base on an everyday basis.

He expected big things. The Phillies did, too.

“Super excited,” Kingery said of his feelings during the spring before Friday night’s series opener against the Mets.

But then the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled Spring Training in March and Kingery suffered a nasty bout with the coronavirus in June. It pushed back his Summer Camp arrival in July by nine days. He continued to experience effects from the virus, like shortness of breath and fatigue, but he made the Opening Day lineup. Back tightness developed, possibly COVID related, but possibly from pushing himself too hard. The back tightness led to a left shoulder issue. Kingery struggled through 11 games, batting just .100 (4-for-40) with one RBI and a .263 OPS. He has not played since Tuesday.

Whenever Kingery returns, he will not be the Phillies’ everyday second baseman. Instead, he will move around the field like seasons past, bouncing mostly between second base and center field.

“It is frustrating,” Kingery said. “And I just think everything is amplified, because there’s no time to figure things out this year. It’s a sprint. There’s really no time to waste. I come in and don’t perform, things change. I completely understand that.”

Kingery said the back and shoulder issues might have affected his hitting to a point, although they were not enough to put him on the 10-day injured list.

“Swinging,” he said, “when I’m in the box, obviously there are things that I need to correct and figure out. I don’t really relate that to COVID, how fast I came back, stuff like that. Whether the injuries bugged me a little bit while I swung, I don’t think that’s the reason I’ve been struggling. I just think there’s things that need to get ironed out and figured out with my swing and approach. I don’t think anything of that is related to me missing Summer Camp or COVID related or injuries.

“Your swing feels different day to day. There’s always something that you’re messing with or want to mess with. I think that’s part of the issue. I think too much about it, rather than just being athletic in the box and letting what I’ve done my whole life handle that.”

The Phillies promoted top prospect Alec Bohm on Thursday, which bumped Jean Segura from third base to second base. Outfielder Adam Haseley is on the 10-day injured list with a sprained left wrist, which leaves Roman Quinn as the only true center fielder on the roster. But Kingery can play there, and it might be his best bet for playing time in the short term.

“I know we had Alec [Bohm] coming up and people changing positions,” Kingery said. “It actually feels more comfortable for me now to be able to just get thrown out there [in center field]. I haven’t taken many reps, but I’m sure it’ll come back faster than it has in the past. Obviously, if that’s the spot for me, I’m fine going out there.”

Here comes JoJo
The Phillies promoted left-hander JoJo Romero from the team’s alternate training site in Allentown, Pa. He is the organization’s No. 15 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He is also the fourth prospect to be promoted in the past week, joining Bohm, Spencer Howard and Connor Brogdon.

Phillies manager Joe Girardi said they needed somebody to pitch multiple innings. Romero is built up to five innings and 75 pitches.

The team optioned left-hander Austin Davis to make room for Romero on the roster.

“He’s got good stuff,” Girardi said about Romero. “It’s commanding all his stuff that is probably the most important thing for him. There were days that I saw him in Spring Training that his stuff was really, really good. You know, one of the best live BP sessions that I saw during the course of our second Spring Training was his. I mean, his stuff was really that good. So I could use him in a lot of different roles today. He's kind of here for distance in case we were to need that. But they're gonna throw a lot of left-handed hitters at you, and something could come up during the course of the game. I won't just strictly limit him to that.”

Right-handers Enyel De Los Santos and Trevor Kelley also cleared waivers and have been outrighted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Cutch looking to rediscover speed
Andrew McCutchen served as the Phillies’ designated hitter for a second consecutive game Friday. Jay Bruce got his second straight start in left field.

McCutchen had ACL surgery last summer. He is not running as well as in the past. It is a small sample size, but Statcast lists his sprint speed at 27.0 feet per second this season, which ranks in the 64th percentile among all runners. He averaged 28.8 feet per second last season, which ranked in the 91st percentile.

“As we go along during the course of the season, you'll see him move better and better,” Girardi said. “I think there's some hesitancy and I think there are certain things that you can't simulate no matter how hard you try. That could happen in the course of a game, the starting and the stopping, and that seems to be the most difficult part for him. Once he gets going, he seems to be fine. So we will continue to try to work on all that while he is playing. He understands that and he is trying to get it going as fast as he can. You know, he's working with our training staff and our strength coaches to try to get all of what he had before he had the injury back.”

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