The band, or at least the vast majority of it, was back together Friday night.
With Didi Gregorius coming off the injured list, the Phillies had seven of their opening-day position players in the starting lineup for the first time since May 9, when they played the Braves in Atlanta.
Gregorius immediately made his presence felt by hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning of the Phillies’ 4-3, 10-inning win over the San Diego Padres.
“We haven’t had [the lineup] very often, so it’s kind of nice to have,” manager Joe Girardi said before the game.
Only Odubel Herrera was not in the lineup opening day among Friday’s starters, but he has since become the regular center fielder. So essentially the Phillies are healthier than they have been in a long, long time.
“It’s different when you have all the different pieces and you’re trying to divide your left-handed hitters,” Girardi said. “It makes it difficult on the opposing manager when he deploys certain guys in the bullpen, so that’s how we kind of made the lineup today and we’ll see how it goes.”
Girardi said that if the Phillies are going to turn their season around, this would be a good and logical time to start.
“I think we need to take advantage of this time,” Girardi said. “And we’re facing really good teams right now ... but we have to prove we can compete against these teams.”
Gregorius missed 41 games with a rare injury known as pseudogout, a form of arthritis characterized by sudden, painful swelling in one or more joints. In Gregorius’ case, the fiery pain targeted his right elbow and persisted for weeks. When Gregorius last played, the Phillies were 20-17 and one game behind the first-place New York Mets in the standings. During his absence, they went 17-24, slipping to 37-41 overall and 4½ games behind the Mets.
Girardi batted the left-handed hitting Gregorius seventh in his first game back and the Phillies have to hope the veteran shortstop supplies the same power he did a year ago when he hit 10 home runs and drove in 40 runs.
The trio of Ronald Torreyes (28 games), Nick Maton (11 games), and Luke Williams (2 games) filled in for Gregorius during his time on the injured list. Those three did a terrific job, hitting a combined .252 with a .308 on-base percentage and .695 OPS while contributing seven doubles, four home runs, and 26 RBIs in 41 games.
Maton was optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley to make room for Gregorius, but he’s a good bet to return to the big leagues before the season is over.
“The last week he played about as well as anyone we have,” Girardi said. “But we want him to play every day and not once a week.”
Girardi said he will carefully monitor Gregorius now that he has finally returned.
“Well, I think you check with him every day … to see how things are going,” the manager said. “But I could see maybe playing him through the weekend, playing him two of the three and then giving him a day off somewhere. Maybe it will be the first day in Chicago if he feels good Sunday.”
The Phillies play the Padres through Sunday, then begin a road trip Monday night against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Zach Eflin has recovered from the sinus infection that was going to keep him out of his scheduled start Thursday against Miami before the game was postponed. Girardi said Eflin will pitch Saturday afternoon against the Padres’ Yu Darvish. Vince Velasquez will pitch the series finale against San Diego on Sunday and Matt Moore will return to the rotation Monday night against the Cubs. ... Friday marked only the second time in history that the Padres and Phillies played in Philadelphia on July 2. The last time was 1993 and it became a historic doubleheader with the second game starting at 1:28 a.m. and ending at 4:40 a.m. on July 3 after a 10th-inning RBI single by Mitch Williams.