The initial thought regarding Maikel Franco and his wrist fracture was that the rookie would sit out the rest of 2015 and prepare to play again in 2016.
According to Pete Mackanin, however, there is a “real good chance” the 22-year-old finds himself back in the Phillies’ starting lineup before the end of the season.
“Right now there’s a real good chance of his coming back,” Mackanin told Jim Salisbury Wednesday.
Franco suffered what was originally thought to be a wrist contusion on Aug. 11 in Arizona, where he was hit on the wrist by a Jeremy Hellickson fastball. The third baseman sat out five games before an MRI revealed there was actually a small fracure, and Franco was put on the 15-day disabled list.
“He was checked today and he’ll be checked again in a week or so. He’s making good progress,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Wednesday.
According to Salisbury, Franco has been cleared to participate in all baseball activities except swinging a bat, but if he is cleared to swing next week, he could work his way to face live pitching, in which case he could return to the starting lineup sometime in September.
“If he’s 100 percent healthy, let him play,” Mackanin said. “Give him as many at-bats as you can. We’re going to be playing teams that are playing for something in the last few weeks of the season. It’s good to play in games like that, to play in New York and play in Washington with huge crowds and with pressure on. There’s pressure on us, too, to win.”
For a player as young as Franco, the more at-bats he gets, the better. If he’s not completely healthy, however, there is no reason to rush the team’s best young hitter back to lineup and risk further injury.
The Phillies are 5-9 since losing Franco, and the offense has been spotty, averaging just over four runs per game. Utility player Andres Blanco has made most of the starts at third base in Franco’s absence and has filled in well, batting .364 with a .429 OBP and a 1.110 OPS.
Franco was working himself into National League Rookie of the Year conversations before landing on the disabled list. He led all qualifying big league rookies in OPS (.828) and slugging percentage (.490) to go along with a .277 average, 13 home runs and 48 RBIs.