Pete Mackanin dropped second baseman Cesar Hernandez to eighth in the batting order for Tuesday night’s game against the Washington Nationals.
“If you want to call it a message you can call it a message,” Mackanin said.
Hernandez entered the game hitting .255 with a .616 OPS. Last year, he hit .272 with and .687 OPS.
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“I expect more out of him,” Mackanin said. “I think he's a better hitter than he's shown. I think he's a .280 hitter and I think he's at .250. I want to see improvement. We need him to get back up to .280, where I think he belongs. He’s got to make adjustments. We need offense.”
Mackanin pointed to Hernandez’s double-play partner, shortstop Freddy Galvis, as an example of a player who has made improvements.
Galvis entered Tuesday night hitting .257 with a .696 OPS. But in the month of May, he was hitting .277 with a .708 OPS.
“Freddy is starting to come on,” Mackanin said. “He’s starting to make adjustments.”
Galvis has also played excellent defense.
The Phillies are a rebuilding club with a number of potential big-league contributors rounding out their development in the minors. The team’s top prospect is a shortstop – J.P. Crawford – and he’s in Triple A now. It’s not out of the question that he will be the team’s opening day shortstop next season.
Crawford’s eventual ascension impacts both Galvis and Hernandez. Galvis can also play second base. Whether Hernandez or Galvis becomes the second baseman when Crawford arrives could be determined by who hits. This is the time to make impressions.
“That's basically what it boils down to,” Mackanin said. “I've even talked to them about that — 'It's an important year for both of you because there are people who want to be in the big leagues that are in the minor leagues and want to take your job.' You have to approach it that way. You can't let down. You have to stay focused and work hard.”
While all signs point to Crawford taking over at shortstop in the future, Mackanin said Galvis’ defense should not be taken for granted.
“As well as Freddy is playing shortstop, you'd hate to move a guy like that out of that position,” Mackanin said. “It's a defensive position and he's been so good at it.”
Galvis entered Tuesday night with just two errors in 50 games. His .990 fielding percentage trailed only San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford and Detroit’s Jose Iglesias, both .995.