'They're My 25 Players': Mackanin Talks Phillies' Potential Changes - NBC 10 Philadelphia

'They're My 25 Players': Mackanin Talks Phillies' Potential Changes

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    'They're My 25 Players': Mackanin Talks Phillies' Potential Changes
    CSNPhilly.com
    'They're my 25 players': Mackanin talks Phillies' potential changes

    Two first-place teams and a combined 158-108 mark - that's probably not what you'd expect from the top four minor-league affiliates of the team currently with the worst record in the majors.

    That record is the best combined minor-league record in the majors, and it's the result of a bevy of big-time prospects at Triple A Lehigh Valley and Double A Reading.

    Prior to Wednesday's game, Phils GM Matt Klentak said that Scott Kingery (see story) won't be coming to Philadelphia anytime soon, and Thursday, manager Pete Mackanin faced similar questions. Six players in the lineup for the series finale against Boston were batting worse than .250 entering the day - but both the IronPigs and Fightin' Phils have four regulars hitting at least .270.

    And with veterans like Howie Kendrick, Daniel Nava and Michael Saunders still seeing plenty of playing time, the question remains: When will the Phillies begin to take chances and give their most talented prospects an opportunity to develop in the majors?

    "Right now, my job is to handle the 25 players I have and I want them to know that I have confidence in them," Mackanin said. "I'm not going to talk about who I'd like to see, if anybody, come up and take their place. I don't think that's fair to them, and I think it's important that they know I believe in them and that they're going to improve."

    "All I can do is encourage them to get better because they're my 25 players."

    Fortunately, while Saunders has continued to flounder, Kendrick's return has been a welcome sign, and Nava has taken on an expanded role. Although the two have only 175 at-bats between them for the season, they are hitting above the .320 mark. Since an injury sent Cesár Hernandez to the disabled list last weekend, Nava has played in left field each game with Kendrick shifting back to his old infield spot at second base.

    With the team's young core still mostly floundering at the plate, the two veterans pieces seem to be adding a bit of stability to the Phillies' offense - even if the team isn't winning.

    "[Nava] gives you good at-bats from both sides of the plate and he's a better defensive player than I thought he was," Mackanin said. "I like watching him play and I'm going to use him as much as I can to get as much offense in the lineup as I can at this point."

    Still, the team has plenty of young pieces within the organization, and Nava is just one of four position players that are not under contract for next season (including Michael Saunders' $11 million team option). If not Kingery at second base, what about an outfield with Aaron Altherr, Odúbel Herrera and Nick Williams? Or what would the team's offense look like with Rhys Hoskins' 14 homers and 49 RBIs - nearly double what Tommy Joseph has right now - at first base?

    No changes appear to be imminent, and Mackanin emphasized that making it to the majors is one thing. Staying there is another. So it's important to make sure a prospect is ready before calling him up.

    "You have to earn the right to keep that job once have it," he said. "In other words, because you had a good year last year but not a good year this year doesn't mean you have a free pass because, ‘Oh, well it was just an off year.' It doesn't work like that. Every year you play, you have to be consistent."

    Until then, Mackanin will sit in the manager's office knowing that he can do little more than give the support to the guys his front office hands him.

    "I understand the big picture. I don't have an issue with what Matt (Klentak) wants to do," Mackanin said. "We discuss things and I'm basically on the same page as him for the most part. We have to find out, once and for all, whether we're going to go forward with some of these guys and once again, it's tough to go through another year like that but I'm in charge of doing it.

    "All I know is that while I'm in charge of the guys that are in this clubhouse, I have to stay true to them and encourage them as much as I can."