FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s usually dangerous to make any declarations after the first few days of Grapefruit League play, but the Phillies seem to be encouraged by the early returns of moving Jean Segura to third base.
Segura started at third base Wednesday and has played there this spring for each of his first three games. He had never played third, but was moved off shortstop after the Phillies signed Didi Gregorious. If Segura can handle third this spring, that will allow Scott Kingery to play every day at his natural position, second base.
“It was a good day for Jean. That’s not an easy play. Not an easy turn,” manager Joe Girardi said about a double play Segura started in the first inning of a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Twins. “What I like is it’s smooth. It’s not panicky. It looks like he’s been doing it.”
The Phillies planned to shuffle Segura around the infield this spring as they tried to find the combination that worked best. But the alignment of Segura at third, Gregorious at shortstop, and Kingery at second would be their ideal mix. And if it works, is there any value in still moving them this spring?
“That’s something we haven’t really talked about yet,” Girardi said. “It’s probably a conversation that I think we would have in a week or so. Maybe see how it looks the other way. But Scott has looked good at second and I think you could flip it and they both would look good. But if Jean is comfortable there and it seems like him and Didi have a thing, then we might just leave it. I don’t know. It’s too early to tell because we haven’t seen enough.”
Rafael Marchan, a 21-year-old catcher pressed into extra duty as the team’s catching unit battles injuries early in camp, continues to impress Girardi.
He started Wednesday’s game, played the first five innings, and went 2-for-2. Marchan, a minor-league invite, is seeing added work early in camp as Andrew Knapp deals with a rib cage injury and Deivy Grullon is eased back following a sore tooth.
“Our young catcher was great again. I said, ‘You finally made a mistake. The pop-up,’” Girardi said of a foul ball Marchan misplayed. “He went too quickly. Like he had time to flip his mask. But the kid does a lot really well.”
Marchan split last season between single-A Lakewood and high-A Clearwater, combining for just a .658 OPS in 85 games. His defense is stellar, but his offense will need to improve. He went unprotected this offseason in the Rule 5 draft and was not drafted, as a team would have a hard time carrying a 21-year-old catcher with limited offensive prowess. But he seems to be showing some improvement this spring with his bat.
“He doesn't have to show power, he just has to hit and be an adequate hitter,” Girardi said. “He can be a really good hitter and handle the bat. Defensively, he’s really, really good. He’s going to save you runs by catching. Right? Those aren’t usually equated into RBIs. But those are RBIs for me.”
Robert Stock, who is on the 40-man roster after being claimed off waivers this offseason, will undergo testing on Friday to determine the next course of action after he felt discomfort in a flexor tendon in his forearm. The hard-throwing righthanded reliever has yet to pitch in a Grapefruit League game.
“The concerning part about it is that it’s the second time in two years,” Girardi said. “But it wasn’t a high-grade or anything. He felt it the day after he threw live batting practice, and it was lights out.”