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Scott Kingery off to slow start to 2020 season

With a move to second base on a full-time basis, 2020 was supposed to be the year that Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Scott Kingery got a sense of stability in his career. Instead, 2020 has been full of challenges for the 26-year-old.  

Back on June 11, Kingery saw his first curveball thrown at him when he tested positive for COVID-19. 

“For a week, I was so tired. Low energy. Fatigue. Then I experienced shortness of breath for a week. I felt like I laid on the couch for three weeks without moving. I was tired just going up the stairs,” Kingery told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury back on July 7. 

Scott Kingery has struggled to start the 2020 season. (Cheryl Pursell)

Following Kingery’s positive test result, he was forced to be sidelined from doing any form of physical form activity for nearly two weeks. Due to the circumstances he was dealing with, Kingery was also a late arrival to Summer Camp. 

Even as he worked his way back from a battle with COVID-19, there was still hope he could get on track by the time the regular season started. After all, he was one of the team’s most valuable players in the early going in 2019.

The 26-year-old hit .406/.457/.719 with four extra base hits and five RBIs in the first 30 games last season. His .969 OPS during that span lead all Phillies hitters.

However, Kingery’s numbers deteriorated over his last 30 games of the 2019 season. Despite collecting nine extra base hits, Kingery hit .196/.233/.381 during that stretch. His strikeout percentage spiked significantly to 31.7% over the last 30 games.

Kingery’s struggles from late in the 2019 season have carried into the early days of his third major league campaign. Through his first nine games of the 2020 season, Kingery is slashing just .097/.176/.097.

His new skipper, Joe Girardi, is optimistic that Kingery’s numbers will start increasing soon. 

“Some of his at-bats have been pretty good. I feel like he has just missed some balls…he has fouled some balls off…he has been a tick in front or tick behind,” Girardi said to Phillies Nation‘s Tim Kelly last Thursday. “I think his at-bats are better than the numbers say and I think that will turn. We need it to turn because he is an impactful player just because he is a combination of speed and has some power and he can do a lot of things.” 

Kingery was off for the first of two games Sunday, but is back in the lineup Monday night after going 1-3 in Game 2. Though the Phillies will look to continue playing Kingery at second base everyday in hopes that this slump pans out, they do have other options to go with at the position. Jean Segura, also off to a slow start, could move from third base to second base if Alec Bohm gets called up, or Girardi could use veteran infielders Phil Gosselin and Neil Walker. 

The fact the Phillies have only played three straight days once this season – mainly caused by that one-week hiatus following the Miami Marlins series from July 24-27 – could be a factor into why Kingery has had a slow start. Even though the Phillies had a few intrasquad games during that time off, the level of competition is not the same for all hitters when it comes to getting their timing down at the plate. 

Kingery was asked about his struggles this past Friday over a Zoom call with the collective media, which included Phillies Nation‘s Destiny Lugardo. He mentioned how the lack of consistent game action at the beginning of the season has hurt him as he still attempts to recover physically from the effects of COVID-19.

“Personally, it took me a while once I got back to campus to get into the swing of things after COVID and everything. There were some lingering things like shortness of breath,” Kingery said. “It got to a good point and then we were shut down so I feel like I have taken a step back but now it is just about building that up again.” 

Kingery might be receiving the medicine he is hoping for as the Phillies are set to play 14 games in the next 15 days, as long as there is not a rainout or another coronavirus outbreak. Despite ranking second as a team in the National League in on-base percentage (.344), the Phillies currently rank 10th in team batting average and need Kingery, among others, to get going relatively soon.


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