The Phillies will use Nick Williams and Scott Kingery in the outfield to replace Odubel Herrera while Major League Baseball conducts an investigation into Herrera’s arrest on a charge of domestic violence.
Williams returned to the major-league club Tuesday afternoon from triple A and immediately entered the starting lineup for the game against the Cardinals.
One initial plan, manager Gabe Kapler said, is for Kingery to start in center against left-handed pitchers and Williams to start in left field with Andrew McCutchen playing center against right-handers.
“That’s one way we’ve been thinking about it for the last couple of hours and it’s definitely on the table for discussion,” Kapler said before Tuesday’s series opener against the Cardinals. “At the same time, Scott has been playing well regardless of where we put him and [Tuesday night] he’s going to be at third base and Nick is going to be in left field. We’ll take it on a case-by-case basis, but that’s certainly one way we can address it.”
Herrera had started just four of the last eight games before Tuesday as his struggles at the plate — a .692 OPS in 139 plate appearances — forced the Phillies to push Kingery into center field. Kingery entered Tuesday 7-for-24 with three extra-base hits since returning earlier this month from the injured list from a hamstring injury. He had a .989 OPS this season in his first 60 plate appearances and looks much more comfortable than he did last year as a rookie. He’s started games this season at shortstop, second base, third base and center field.
“Kingery has been playing great,” general manager Matt Klentak said. “I know he was out for a little while with an injury, but, both before and after the injury, I think he’s been playing great. This would definitely open the door for more center-field reps. As long as Scott Kingery is hitting and contributing the way he has been, I’m pretty confident we’re going to try to create spots in the lineup for him.
Williams played just two games in triple A after being sent to the minors last week. He started just nine of the team’s first 45 games and was batting .180 through 61 at-bats. Williams, with the absence of regular playing time, struggled to find success as a pinch-hitter before the Phillies optioned him to triple A with the hopes that he would receive everyday at-bats.
“We’re going to have to replace that production,” Klentak said of Herrera. “We’re fortunate we have a guy in Nick Williams, who we sent down to get at-bats, Now, all of a sudden, there’s playing time for him. We have a guy of Nick’s caliber, who can come up and fill in.”