It’s one of the least talked about storylines this offseason but there’s a possibility the Phillies could be without one of their best hitters come Opening Day 2021.
Rhys Hoskins sustained an injury to his non-throwing elbow on Sept. 12 after colliding with Corey Dickerson at first base in Miami while trying to rein in a wide throw from J.T. Realmuto. He missed the rest of the 2020 season and underwent UCL repair surgery on Oct. 2. He is expected to be ready to play 4-6 months after surgery and so far, rehab seems to be going well for the 27-year-old.
On a recent episode of Pine Tar for Breakfast with Kevin Frandsen, Hoskins shared a positive update on his rehab.
“So far, we’re right on track if not ahead of the plan that we had set back in October when I had the surgery,” Hoskins said. “That’s very encouraging. I’ve been hitting for about almost three weeks all off the tee. There’s been nothing of note there, everything feels normal. The biggest thing in rehab is how it responds the next day and so far so good with that. I’m not getting too sore.”
Hoskins, who is set to make $4.8 million in his first year of arbitration this season, is amping up his hitting this week with a focus on regaining strength in his left hand and forearm. If all goes well, Hoskins should “be on track to see a lot of spring training action.”
The Phillies first baseman did not specify whether or not he would be ready to play in the field come spring training. Shortly after Hoskins suffered the injury, he told reporters that grip strength was the key for him to return by the end of the regular season. He didn’t want to rush back if it meant he had to compromise other areas of his swing. He could be focusing more on hitting in his rehab because his injury affects his swing more than anything else.
If the DH returns to the National League in 2021, the Phillies will have the option to ease Hoskins back into game action. In a small sample size, Alec Bohm impressed at first base and if the team does sign a shortstop in free agency, either Jean Segura or Scott Kingery could move to third base.
Similar to last season with Andrew McCutchen’s ACL, the Phillies could stand to benefit from a later start date. Commissioner Rob Manfred told all 30 clubs to expect the season to start on time but if Opening Day does get pushed back, perhaps Hoskins has a better chance at starting the season 100 percent healthy.
Manager Joe Girardi is operating as if Hoskins will probably be back come the start of the season.
“I think we will have him,” Girardi said after the winter meetings in December. “Could he be a little bit behind? I think that’s possible but his rehab has went really well.”
As many athletes would say, rehab from a serious injury is just as, if not more difficult mentally as it is physically. Hoskins is going through all of that right now with the hope that it will all work out for him come next season.
“I have the best care in the world that I’m getting to take advantage of,” Hoskins said. “Physically, I’m not worried at all. It’s just going to be mentally getting over those firsts. I’m excited about [it]. So far, it’s gone pretty smooth and I don’t really expect it to go any differently going forward.”
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