Mackanin Benches Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders as Howie Kendrick Ramps Up Rehab | NBC 10 Philadelphia

Mackanin Benches Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders as Howie Kendrick Ramps Up Rehab

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    Mackanin Benches Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders as Howie Kendrick Ramps Up Rehab
    CSNPhilly.com
    Mackanin benches Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders as Howie Kendrick ramps up rehab

    Having seen his team's offense produce just six hits and one run in the previous two games, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin benched Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders on Tuesday night.

    The benchings could last more than one game.

    "I'm not going to tip my hand because I don't know what my hand is yet," Mackanin said. "I feel like I have to do something to get some offense in the lineup and there comes a point in time where I'm trying different things.

    "At this level you've got to produce. You want to play, you've got to hit and they have to understand that. Nobody is here on scholarship."

    Franco and Saunders opened the season hitting fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Phillies' batting order.

    Entering play Tuesday, Franco was hitting just .221 with a .281 on-base percentage and a .377 slugging percentage.

    Saunders was hitting .227 with a .273 on-base percentage and a .383 slugging percentage.

    Franco was leading the team with 28 RBIs and tied for second with six homers, but his inconsistency and inability to harness his free-swinging approach was wearing on Mackanin. Franco swung wildly at breaking balls on Monday night and struck out twice. The 24-year-old third baseman has worked hard on developing a more disciplined approach with hitting coach Matt Stairs, but has been unable to consistently incorporate those adjustments into his game.

    Mackanin said he was surprised by Franco's consistent struggles. He hoped the benching would take some pressure off the player.

    "Befuddled is a good word," Mackanin said. "As much as he works in the cage and on the field in batting practice and does it right, when he gets in the game his head is still flying and his bat is coming out of the zone.

    "You've heard me say this many times: Hitting is like riding a bike. I can't teach you to keep your head in there. I can tell you to do it, but you have to do it on your own and he's got to figure it out. Guys have to figure it out. They have to figure out how to get the job done. Whether it's cut down on your swing, choke up, use a different bat, use a different stance, do something different. If you make outs the same way over and over, it's not going to change."

    Andres Blanco started at third base in place of Franco and Ty Kelly was in the lineup in left field with Aaron Altherr moving into Saunders' spot in right.

    Quite notable was that on the same day that Franco and Saunders went to the bench, Howie Kendrick ramped up his rehab from an abdominal strain. He took batting practice outdoors for the first time since the April 15 injury. He could be ready for a minor-league rehab assignment later this week and be ready to play in the majors next week. Kendrick can play both corner outfield spots and both corner infield spots, so he could push Franco and Saunders for work if he hits and they continue to struggle.