Phillies second baseman Jean Segura returned Friday afternoon from the injured list, meaning there was no longer an infield position for Nick Maton to fill. The rookie has held his own playing nearly every day since reaching the majors last month, but he’ll now move to a bench role.
The Phillies had floated the idea of Maton moving to center field, but that no longer seems to be in play. Manager Joe Girardi said earlier this week that Maton was not an option in center as the Phillies continue to look for production from the position.
“If we were going to really consider it, he might need some playing time there,” Girardi said before Friday’s series opener in Atlanta. “I’m going to have him take fly balls all over the place just for double switches. Any time you can do that, you can obviously make yourself more attractive as a player because you’re so versatile and it gives me a lot more options.”
Maton entered Friday hitting .293 with a .707 OPS in 61 plate appearances as he cooled off a bit during the team’s recent seven-game homestand. Maton was just 4-for-22 with eight strikeouts against the Mets and Brewers.
He started 17 straight games since being promoted as the Phillies used him at shortstop while Didi Gregorius was hurt before moving him to second when Segura was out.
“I could see him getting starts at short and second as time goes on and at third. Just having him move around the infield more than anything right now,” Girardi said. “Double switches for him. We have three more days until we have a day off, so we’ll see how the guys are feeling. It’s not going to be as consistent playing time for sure.”
Phillies center fielders entered Friday batting .125 with a .404 OPS, both easily the worst in the majors. Five National League teams -- the Nationals, Rockies, Pirates, Mets, and Braves -- have higher batting averages from their pitchers. And that’s why the Phillies thought about using Maton -- an infielder -- in center.
For now, they’ll hope Odúbel Herrera and Scott Kingery can solve the problems in center. Herrera, who started Friday, entered the weekend with four hits and seven strikeouts in his first 30 at-bats. Kingery has started just one game this season and has one hit in eight at-bats. He’s been a deep reserve, but could see more time with outfielders Mickey Moniak and Matt Joyce on the injured list.
The Phillies kept Kingery and Herrera on the roster over Moniak, who was dropped back to triple A after Thursday’s game. Moniak, who turns 23 next week, was 3-for-25 this season and started seven games. He started on Friday night in center for Lehigh Valley.
“We want Mickey to play every day,” Girardi said. “I thought Mickey made some great strides last year. We just have to get him going.”
Herrera had a hit in three of the four games against the Brewers and the three balls he hit into play on Thursday were among the five hardest-hit balls in the game. Girardi said Herrera has been working with hitting coach Joe Dillon and the Phillies think they’re seeing strides.
“Odúbel is starting to swing the bat a little bit better,” Girardi said. “We want to see where this takes us. Look at the balls he hit [Thursday], and his work has been better. Let’s see where this takes us.”
Bryce Harper returned to the lineup after missing four straight games with a left wrist contusion. ... Girardi said he thought relief pitcher Archie Bradley’s plan to return from the injured list when the team finishes its 10-day road trip was a fair timeline. Bradley, out since April 11 with a strained oblique muscle, was scheduled to throw a side session on Friday and then another this weekend. If all goes well, he’ll start a rehab assignment. ... Vince Velasquez will start Saturday night against Braves right-hander Ian Anderson.