Mickey Moniak will make his season debut Monday afternoon, starting in center field and hitting seventh as the Philadelphia Phillies host the San Francisco Giants on Memorial Day.
Bailey Falter was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley Sunday evening, paving the way for Moniak’s return.
After a huge spring, Moniak was in line to be the Opening Day starter in center field before breaking his hand in his final at-bat of Spring Training. The former No. 1 overall pick — with the help of hitting coach Kevin Long — had exploded in Grapefruit League play, hitting .378 with six home runs and 11 RBIs in just 37 at-bats.
While there are high expectations for Moniak, the Phillies don’t want him to come in with the belief that he needs to save the team’s season.
“He just needs to be Mickey Moniak, that’s all,” Joe Girardi said Monday afternoon. “I think sometimes guys end up trying to do too much. Just be yourself. Go play the game that you’re capable of playing.”
Moniak had previously looked overmatched at the major league level, hitting just .128 with 22 strikeouts in 47 at-bats between the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
For what it’s worth, Moniak is still only 24 years old. He — again, for what it’s worth — drove in six runs in 23 at-bats during his rehab stint with Double-A Reading.
Let’s face it, the bar isn’t high for Moniak to clear. Odúbel Herrera has just a .636 OPS in May, and while he’s posted strong defensive metrics at times throughout his career, the 30-year-old has -3 defensive runs saved in 2022. Roman Quinn may be the fastest player to ever play for the Phillies, but he’s a .224 career hitter. Matt Vierling hit just .170 in 47 at-bats before being optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
So Moniak will get the latest crack at trying to stabilize a position that the Phillies have struggled to get consistent production from since trading Shane Victorino nearly a decade ago.
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