Phillies' New Infield Plans and Velasquez's Worst Career Start


With J.P. Crawford back from the disabled list, the Phillies will rotate three infielders between shortstop and third base. Scott Kingery started at shortstop Friday night and Crawford at third base.

Maikel Franco was on the bench for what turned out to be a forgettable 12-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies were never in the game as the Brewers jumped out to an 11-0 lead.

Franco will get his chances to join the three-man mix depending on the pitching matchup and who's hot and who's not. But he's not going to be the lone man at third base anymore. Franco seemingly came into the season on a short leash at the position and he clearly has not locked up the job.

"We've got three different infielders who we like on the left side and we're trying to come up with the optimal way to get all three of them playing time," general manager Matt Klentak said before Friday night's game. "Some nights we'll prioritize offense, some nights we'll prioritize defense based on who's on the mound or who is pitching for the opposing team."

It's safe to say Franco would not be part of the rotation if he'd produced more this season. In 10 games on the recent road trip, he had just five singles in 30 at-bats and a .167 on-base percentage. His defense was not sharp, either. Over his last 24 games, Franco is hitting just .184 (14 for 76) with a double, a homer and a .471 OPS. For the season, he is at .249 with a .707 OPS. That is not going to dissuade the Phillies from making a run at Manny Machado in the offseason - or sooner. And for Franco, this season seemed to be all about convincing management that he had a future with the club.

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Klentak insisted that the team has not lost faith or patience with Franco.

"We think he's enormously talented," Klentak said. "We think he can impact the baseball when he hits the ball hard. We think he's a good player who is still developing. Right now, we have three infielders who we want to play. We want to create scenarios that put the Phillies in the best position to win ballgames. One of the ways we can do that is, optimize for defense and get Crawford out there at short or third."

Getting more offense out of the left side of the infield is a big part of it, too.

"The name of the game in offense is getting on base," manager Gabe Kapler said. "And we haven't seen a lot of consistency getting on base. And that's something we want to see improve."

Velasquez gets lit up
Coming off one of his best starts of the season, Vince Velasquez could not continue the success. The Brewers tagged him for 10 runs in 3 2/3 innings. Velasquez gave up nine hits, including five for extra bases. He walked two. Both of those walks came with two outs in the first inning and preceded a three-run homer by Ryan Braun. Braun added a two-run homer off Mark Leiter Jr. in the fourth. He has 24 homers and 67 RBIs in 67 career games against the Phillies.

Velasquez pitched 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball at San Francisco in his previous outing. He walked one and struck out nine in that game, a 2-0 loss to the Giants.

June was billed as a big test month for the Phillies. They are 1-6 in the month and 7-13 in their last 20 (see story). They are now just three games over .500 at 32-29.

Cozens exits
Rightfielder Dylan Cozens left the game in the second inning after experiencing tightness in his left quadriceps muscle. 

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