WASHINGTON — After running around outfields for 13 years in the major leagues and having a ligament reconstructed in both knees, Andrew McCutchen tends not to produce the cleanest MRI images. Within that context, the results of Sunday’s test revealed “nothing that was alarming,” according to Phillies manager Joe Girardi.
But there was still enough inflammation present in McCutchen’s left knee to land him on the 10-day injured list.
“We just didn’t feel like it’d be a couple days,” Girardi said Monday before the opener of a four-game series with the Washington Nationals. “We think it’ll calm down with this stint, and our hope is to get him back when it’s over.”
The Phillies will have to make do, then, without their most prolific run producer since the outset of June. The soonest that McCutchen can return is Aug. 11, the second of three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park.
After a slow start that had some observers questioning whether he could still be an everyday player, McCutchen has been on a two-month tear. Beginning with a two-homer game June 1 in Cincinnati, McCutchen is batting .271 and slugging .574 with 13 homers, 37 RBIs, and a .964 OPS in 49 games. He leads the Phillies in homers, RBIs, and runs (33) during that span.
McCutchen exited Saturday night’s game in Pittsburgh with soreness in his left knee. The Phillies replaced him Sunday by putting Travis Jankowski in center field and moving Odubel Herrera to left, an arrangement they used again Monday night. With a lefty (Patrick Corbin) scheduled to start Tuesday night for Washington, it’s possible righty-hitting Luke Williams will get a start in either center or left.
For now, at least, Girardi said the Phillies aren’t planning to call up Mickey Moniak or Matt Vierling from triple-A Lehigh Valley. Moniak, in particular, has been swinging the bat well. He’s 30-for-85 (.353) with eight doubles, three triples, and four homers in his last 23 games for Lehigh Valley.
Could Moniak or Vierling be a consideration if McCutchen misses more than 10 days?
“We’ll discuss it every day,” Girardi said. “But as of right now, we’re just going to stay with who we got.”
Regardless, McCutchen’s production won’t be easily replaced.
“Yeah, that’s going to be felt,” first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “The run production, just the professional at-bat, right? He always gives you one, regardless of whether there’s an out made or if he’s on base or driving in a run or hitting a double, whatever it might be. Just losing that presence in the middle of the lineup.”
Backup catcher Andrew Knapp returned from the paternity list after the birth of his son, Brady, and took the roster spot vacated by McCutchen. The Phillies elected to keep rookie Rafael Marchan on the roster as a third catcher.
Hoskins getting close
Hoskins didn’t start for a fourth consecutive game after tweaking his left groin last Thursday. But he took grounders before the game, ran at with about 60-70% intensity — “A brisk jog,” he said, laughing — and even came up as a pinch-hitter and struck out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning.
When might be back in the lineup?
“It’s kind of one of those things that it all depends how you wake up the next day,” Hoskins said. “So far I’ve responded really well. I’ve felt less, if not anything, when I’ve woken up. Like today I felt barely anything compared to what I felt yesterday.”
Brad Miller started his third game in a row at first base.
After being removed from the starting rotation over the weekend, Vince Velasquez went on the 10-day injured list with a blister on his right middle finger. The blister developed over the last few days, according to Girardi. The Phillies recalled reliever Enyel De Los Santos from Lehigh Valley. ... Bryce Harper entered the week with a .302/.414/.546 slash line. The Phillies haven’t had a player hit .300, reach base 40% of the time, and slug .500 in a season since Chase Utley in 2007 (.332/.410/.566). ... Sunday’s 15-4 victory in Pittsburgh marked the first time in 80 years that the Phillies scored at least 15 runs in a game without hitting a home run. It happened in an 18-2 rout of the New York Giants on Aug. 17, 1941, at Shibe Park. ... Zack Wheeler (8-6, 2.45 ERA) is scheduled to start Tuesday night against Corbin (6-9, 5.78), one of the few remaining veterans after the Nationals’ trade-deadline fire sale.