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The Phillies’ center-field job is still up for grabs and Travis Jankowski is now the frontrunner

The Phillies have been conducting a center-field competition since spring training and the latest leader in the clubhouse is Travis Jankowski as Odubel Herrera heads out on a rehab assignment.

A diving Travis Jankowski steals second base during the Phillies' 7-4 win over the Miami Marlins Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.
A diving Travis Jankowski steals second base during the Phillies' 7-4 win over the Miami Marlins Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The dominant topic of conversation during spring training focused on the Phillies’ center-field competition. Would it be Adam Haseley? Or Scott Kingery? Or Roman Quinn? Or Odúbel Herrera? Or Mickey Moniak?

“We’re still talking about it,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said early Sunday evening after his team picked up a couple of wins over the Miami Marlins to pull within two games of the first-place New York Mets in the National League East.

For good reason.

Herrera, who seemed to have won the job by hitting .301 with five home runs and an .842 OPS during a 40-game stretch in May and June, went into a bit of a slump and then landed on the disabled list before the All-Star break with left ankle tendinitis.

Meanwhile, Travis Jankowski got hot. Really hot. So hot that the Phillies are in no hurry to bring back Herrera.

“Situations like that take care of themselves, but [Herrera] is actually going to go out on a rehab Tuesday to get some at-bats since he hasn’t had at-bats in a while,” Girardi said. “We’ll take a look at him after a couple of days.”


Luke Williams, who has also been a part of the Phillies’ perpetually contributing bench, got the start in center field for Sunday’s second game against Miami and drew a walk, singled, and scored a run. Jankowski pinch-hit for Williams in the sixth and started the game-winning, two-run rally with a single to right field.

In the seven games since Herrera has been on the disabled list, Jankowski has gone 9-for-20 with three walks and an RBI. Overall, he is hitting .375 (18-for-48) with a .474 on-base percentage and .974 OPS.

Scott Kingery’s season is over

Kingery underwent season-ending surgery on his right shoulder Tuesday. The team is hopeful that he will be able to return in time for spring training. It marked the end of a miserable two-year stretch for Kingery, who was removed from the 40-man roster in June after striking out 12 times in 19 plate appearances at the big-league level this season.

The Phillies, of course, signed Kingery to a six-year deal worth $24 million in 2018 before he had a single big-league plate appearance and hoped he would be a cornerstone building block for years to come. After a respectable first two seasons in the big leagues -- he had 57 doubles, 27 home runs and 25 stolen bases -- Kingery contracted COVID-19 before the shortened 2020 season and then hit .159 (18-for-113) with a .511 OPS during the season. He was 1-for-19 at the big-league level this season and batted.181 (13-for-72) in 23 games at triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Kingery is still owed $14.5 million over the next two seasons before the team can exercise a $1 million buyout after the 2023 season.

Extra Innings

The Phillies are off Monday and begin a two-game series Tuesday night against the New York Yankees in the Bronx. Aaron Nola will pitch the opening game of the series. ... Rhys Hoskins’ third-inning double gave him 44 extra-base hits for the season, which is tied for third in the National League. ... The Phillies have hit 23 home runs in their last 13 games.