Philadelphia Phillies fans may feel differently, but manager Joe Girardi isn’t ready to jump any conclusions on the production – or lack thereof – that the team has received from their center fielders to open the 2021 season.
Center field was probably the biggest concern on the Phillies roster heading into the season, and the team’s first seven games haven’t alleviated that fear. Adam Haseley, the opening day center fielder, has just four hits in his first 17 at-bats, and zero walks to show. The former first-round pick hasn’t homered since Sept. 12, 2019. The story has been a familiar one for Roman Quinn – he might be the fastest player in the sport, but he’s struck out in seven of his first 10 at-bats.
Still, Haseley and Quinn have just 27 combined at-bats so far in 2020, leaving Girardi to suggest that it would be unfair to already write either or both off.
“Well, I think that neither one of these guys really has a ton of at-bats,” Girardi said Saturday afternoon. “I think that you’ve got to give them at least 50-75 at-bats in a sense before you really start making up your mind how they’re going to do. We’ve seen really good hitters in the big leagues have a bad month, and they bounce back, but a lot of times those guys have track records so you don’t worry as much. But, they’re gonna get at-bats – it’s way too early to judge.”
The Phillies are 5-2, and will need increased production in center field if they want to have a legitimate chance to compete in the crowded National League East. Naturally, they aren’t going to abandon ship less than 10 games into the season, but if it gets to late April and neither Haseley or Quinn has heated up in any meaningful way, something will probably have to give.
As we saw in spring training, the Phillies do have other internal options, though it’s not immediately clear how much of an upgrade any of the three would be.
Scott Kingery was optioned to the satellite squad to open the season, and Phillies Nation‘s Ty Daubert chronicled the plan of attack that Phillies minor league hitting coordinator Jason Ochart planned to use with the 26-year-old. Girardi said Saturday that the organization feels that Kingery “is becoming more consistent in his swing path, his at-bats and his approach,” but added that the Phillies don’t have a timeline for when he could be recalled.
Odúbel Herrera lingers at the satellite squad as well, having hit four home runs while struggling to get on base consistently in Grapefruit League play. Herrera would still have to be added to the 40-man roster, and the organization still has to factor in the undeniable public relations backlash that would come with giving the former All-Star a second opportunity after a domestic violence suspension.
Former No. 1 overall pick Mickey Moniak impressed in spring training, though Girardi has previously said that he wants to play him every day once he returns to the major leagues. That doesn’t mean Moniak couldn’t force his way into the picture after the All-Star Break, but you do get the sense that the Phillies would like him to get some seasoning at the Triple-A level, with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs season slated to begin on May 4.
So, for the time being, Haseley and Quinn will continue to get the first crack in center field. But if the first week is any indication, center field will be the Phillies most pressing need this summer, and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski may not be able to wait until late July to make an impact addition.
- Truist Park in Atlanta has become a house of horrors for the Phillies, with Friday evening’s blowout loss to Ronald Acuña Jr. and the Braves serving as the latest chapter. Since it opened in 2017, the Phillies are 12-20 at Truist Park.
- In Acuña’s first 43 games against the Phillies, he’s slashed .319/.412/.556 with nine home runs, 26 RBIs, 25 walks and a .968 OPS.
- I found this answer from Brad Miller on how he trusts his preparation rather than chasing results in his often-limited opportunities very interesting:
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