ATLANTA - Tommy Joseph is on the Phillies' radar as they look to improve an offense that has averaged just 3.18 runs per game, the second-lowest mark in the majors.
"It's been discussed," manager Peter Mackanin said of a possible promotion for Joseph, who has been on a tear at Triple A Lehigh Valley.
"We're always thinking about how we can improve and we have to make decisions based on it being the right time. I don't know if this is the right time or not, but [general manager] Matt Klentak and I have been talking about it and we'll just have to wait and see."
The time to take a look at Joseph could be approaching for a number of reasons. First, he's swinging a productive bat. He entered Wednesday leading the International League in batting average (.368), slugging (.655) and OPS (1.046) and had six homers and 17 RBIs in 25 games. Second, the Phillies have gotten poor production for their first basemen - they took a .174 batting average and a .606 OPS, both National League lows, into Wednesday night's game. Joseph converted to first base last year after suffering a series of concussions as a catcher.
Joseph, 24, hits right-handed. If the Phillies wanted to take a look at him, they could send Darin Ruf, the right-handed half of their first-base platoon, to Triple A and let him try to get his stroke back. The Phils are scheduled to face Cincinnati lefty Brandon Finnegan at home on Friday night. The Marlins come in on Monday and could use lefties in the first two games of that series if they stay in rotation.
Ryan Howard, the left-handed-hitting portion of the Phillies' first-base platoon, smacked his eighth homer Wednesday night but is still hitting a paltry .182 with a .678 OPS. He has 37 strikeouts in 99 at-bats. Ruf is hitting .161 with a .406 OPS and 18 strikeouts in 56 at-bats.
Mackanin acknowledged that he was getting "a little" impatient with the lack of production at first base.
"You know, I like to have some production from the corners - the outfield corners and the infield corners - and [Maikel] Franco," Mackanin said. "It was good to see Franco produce. At first base, we need to get going."
Franco had three hits, including a homer, in Tuesday night's 3-2 win over the Braves.
He was hitless with two strikeouts in Wednesday night's 5-1 loss.