MIAMI - Nick Williams was not in the Phillies' starting lineup for the eighth time in the last nine games Wednesday. Williams' playing time has dwindled as Aaron Altherr has heated up and gotten the bulk of the work in right field.
With four outfielders that profile as everyday guys - Williams, Altherr, Odubel Herrera and Rhys Hoskins - playing time figured to be an issue, even though manager Gabe Kapler has long said he could get everyone enough at-bats to be productive and happy.
Williams has just 60 plate appearances. Altherr has 90, Hoskins 121 and Herrera 115.
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At his current rate, Williams would have just 335 plate appearances over a full season and that's not necessarily good for a 24-year-old player's development.
Kapler on Wedneday was asked if it would behoove Williams' long-term development to go to Triple A and get regular playing time.
"I personally think right now he's learning a lot every day," Kapler said. "He's learning a lot about how to come off the bench. He's learning a lot about how to prepare. He's learning a lot about how to be professional and be an exceptional teammate, and those are important lessons for that mid-20s outfielder. He's also learning lessons in early [pregame] work. There is development happening."
Kapler cited pregame throwing work that Williams did with outfield instructor Andy Abad on Wednesday.
"That's just an example of one of the ways we're trying to make Nick the best baseball player possible," Kapler said. "That's where our focus is. And he's had an opportunity to help us win games on most nights he hasn't been in the lineup."
Williams, who has just one start since April 22, came off the bench and delivered a pinch-hit single in Tuesday night's 2-1 loss to Miami.
"In a perfect world, you would have 120 plate appearances at this point to really get your timing down," Kapler said. "But we have three good outfielders playing every single night. Odubel is one of the best hitters in the league, Rhys Hoskins is Rhys and Aaron is having some of the best at-bats of anybody the last week or 10 days so.
"My job is to manage, our job is to manage all the players in our clubhouse as effectively as possible. Nick is one of our players and we want to do everything in our power to put him in a position to succeed."
Williams has remained positive in recent days.
"Just stay ready," he said.
If the Phils were to get to the point where they decided to send Williams to Triple A to get playing time, they could bring up Roman Quinn. As far back as December, club officials talked about transitioning him to a utility role where he could have an impact coming off the bench.