Pete Mackanin Will Face Lineup Challenges With J.P. Crawford and Others on the Way

The Phillies will add several players when rosters expand later this week.

The first wave will arrive Friday in Miami when Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr come off the disabled list. Both have been sidelined with hamstring issues.

The next wave will arrive Tuesday in New York. Triple A Lehigh Valley closes out its season on Monday. Several IronPigs are expected to join the big club, including highly regarded shortstop J.P. Crawford.

The additions of Herrera and Altherr to the outfield and Crawford to the infield will present manager Pete Mackanin with some lineup challenges.

Herrera is the Phillies' regular centerfielder and owner of the club's only long-term contract. He is going to play. Altherr had been one of the team's most productive regulars before he went on the disabled list. A case can be made that he needs to play.

But a case can also be made that rookie Nick Williams - 18 extra-base hits in his last 40 games - needs to continue to get reps, and an ironclad case can be made that rookie phenom Rhys Hoskins - 11 homers and 25 RBIs in three weeks in the majors - needs to continue to get reps.

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Don't fret, Hoskins fans.

"He's going to play every day," Mackanin said.

For the time being, Hoskins will continue to get regular reps in left field. Once Herrera and Altherr return, Hoskins could get more time at first base, his natural position. So far, he has started three of his 19 big-league games at the position. It's a balancing act for Mackanin because he wants to continue to get at-bats for Tommy Joseph, who has played the position all season and leads the team in homers (19) and RBIs (63). The Phillies shopped Joseph for a trade in July and will likely continue to do so this offseason.

Mackanin on Tuesday was unable to confirm any of the names that will come up from the minors because he hadn't yet discussed the matter with general manager Matt Klentak.

"He's going to give me his thoughts," Mackanin said. "I'm anxious to talk to him about it. But I don't want to conjecture what we're going to do."

Crawford is likely to come up because the Phillies have to protect him on the 40-man roster this winter and it makes sense for him to get some big-league experience as he could make the jump to Philadelphia sometime next season. The Phillies recently began introducing Crawford to third base and he is likely to play there at times in September as a way to get him some at-bats.

Playing Crawford occasionally at his natural position of shortstop would make some sense for evaluation purposes, but it might not be that simple as incumbent shortstop Freddy Galvis has had a Gold Glove-caliber season and is on record as saying he'd like to play all 162 games this season. Phillies officials, as far up as Klentak, have praised Galvis for the leadership and energy that he has brought to the team during a difficult season. How will Galvis' desire to play 162 games be balanced with the possible need to see Crawford at shortstop?

"I think about it every day, every night," Mackanin said. "I don't have the answer right now. We'll figure something out."

Mackanin laughed.

"I'll play two shortstops," he said. "Until I know something definite, that's the the best I can do."

The Phillies are likely to add some pitching from Triple A. Jake Thompson, Ricardo Pinto and Drew Anderson are all on the 40-man roster and have spent time with the big club this season. In addition to Crawford, position players Cameron Perkins and Brock Stassi could come up. Both have spent time in the majors this season.

As far as a third catcher, the Phillies can use Andres Blanco in a pinch, and Andrew Knapp (broken hand) is getting closer to being activated. He has begun taking dry swings. He could take some batting practice in the coming days then go to Clearwater for some at-bats next week.

Up next
The Phillies and Braves were rained out Tuesday night. The two teams will play a single-admission doubleheader starting at 12:05 p.m. on Wednesday.

Jerad Eickhoff (4-7, 4.36) will oppose R.A. Dickey (8-8, 4.06) in the first game. Mark Leiter Jr. (2-3, 3.86) will face Julio Teheran (8-11, 4.90) in the second game.

The Phillies are 12-2 against the Braves this season and 8-0 at home.

"I don't know, we just seem to step up and play our best games against them," Mackanin said. "It happens sometime."

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