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Phillies need struggling third baseman Alec Bohm ‘to make the plays he’s supposed to make’

Bohm has been one of the worst defenders this season. It doesn't help that he's not hitting for power like he did in 2020. The Phillies aren't asking him to win a Gold Glove, but just make the outs.

Alec Bohm watches Thursday's game against the Dodgers from the dugout. The third baseman has struggled immensely with fielding this season.
Alec Bohm watches Thursday's game against the Dodgers from the dugout. The third baseman has struggled immensely with fielding this season.Read moreJOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer

Alec Bohm, his name not on the lineup card for a second straight day, left the Phillies clubhouse on Friday afternoon with his glove and headed toward the field. He wasn’t starting the series opener against Cincinnati, but it was not a day off for Bohm.

Instead, Bohm took ground balls at third base and more at first base in the afternoon heat for nearly an hour with infield coach Juan Castro. For the Phillies, it was a chance to work on Bohm’s defensive struggles.

And for Bohm, the day off was a chance to reset himself, as his fielding shortcomings seem to be compounding.

“We just need him to make the plays he’s supposed to make,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “I think you can get in a defensive slump a little bit, just like offense. We talked about it with Didi Gregorius. Early on in the year his timing was messed up. I think he went through it a little bit when he came back. We’ve seen him play much smoother.

“Alec hasn’t played a ton of professional baseball. He hasn’t had a ton of reps. We got him up here last year and he played great. He went through some defensive woes last year and then responded really well. And that’s what I expect this time.”

Friday marked one year since Bohm made his major-league debut, but his second season has not matched his rookie year. He has made 16 errors this season, four of which came in the last week. His OPS this season (.655) is the fourth-worst among National League qualified batters and his defensive runs saved (-11) is the third-worst in the NL.

Girardi said the Phillies have not considered sending Bohm to triple A to reset and still consider him the starting third baseman even though Ronald Torreyes started there for four straight games.

“Overall, I think Bohm is much more of an impact bat, and I’m just trying to reset him in a sense,” Girardi said. “By no means I said Torreyes is going to play every day. But right now, Torreyes is playing well and we’re just trying to reset Bohm.”

Bohm’s defensive shortcomings would be a bit easier to live with if he produced the way he did last season when he had an .881 OPS in 180 plate appearances. There might be signs of progress: He’s hitting .305 since June 1 with a .774 OPS in 185 plate appearances.

But just 10 of his last 51 hits are for extra bases. He’s struggling to unlock the power he flashed last summer. If that happens, his defensive shortcomings won’t be as painful.

“We need him to be productive and that’s the bottom line,” Girardi said. “He’s swung the bat pretty well since June, but he’s had a rough homestand. I’m just trying to reset him, ... We just think he can really help us win. That’s what we believe.”

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Falter to return

Bailey Falter said he will be activated Saturday and rejoin the Phillies bullpen after being on the COVID-19 injured list for more than three weeks. Falter tested positive for the coronavirus and experienced symptoms. His lone rehab appearance was Thursday night with triple-A Lehigh Valley, where Falter pitched a scoreless inning. He will be the lone left-hander in the bullpen.

» READ MORE: Phillies’ Archie Bradley emerging as key reliever at right time

Extra bases

Matt Moore will start Saturday against Reds right-hander Luis Castillo. …Zach Eflin will throw live batting practice this weekend, which is the next step in his progression for returning from his knee injury. He completed a bullpen session Thursday morning. ... Rhys Hoskins is still expected to be activated Tuesday in Arizona. ... Chase Anderson, on the injured list with right triceps tendinitis, “feels better,” Girardi said. ... Freddy Galvis (strained quadriceps) ran the bases Friday afternoon but was not yet scheduled for a rehab assignment. He could play third base when he’s activated.