SAN DIEGO -- Rhys Hoskins stood near the batting cage at Petco Park on Saturday afternoon, mimicked a swing, and jogged to first base. Earlier this week, Hoskins assumed he would be in the lineup for a crucial series against the Padres as the Phillies enter the final stage of the season. Instead, he was limited to testing the nagging groin that continues to keep him on the injured list.
“Of course,” Hoskins said when asked if he was frustrated. “I understand where we’re at in the season. I think, as athletes, you have people telling you that you can’t or shouldn’t do what you want to do, right? I want to be out there. I want to play. I want to help these guys try to get on a roll and win as many games as possible. Just have to wait for the right time to go.”
Hoskins originally planned to join the team last Tuesday in Arizona for the start of a six-game road trip. But his groin was sore enough that he required a cortisone injection on Aug. 13. His return was delayed a few days, but then was pushed back further when Hoskins felt soreness on Thursday after going through pre-game work on Wednesday in Arizona.
Hoskins took Thursday off before resuming activity on Friday in San Diego. He said his groin responded well on Saturday, so he tested it again by taking ground balls and running the bases. Hoskins will see how he feels on Sunday after consecutive days of pre-game work, but it’s unlikely that he will be activated for Sunday’s series finale.
“I don’t want to say ‘I won’t be’ because if I feel great tomorrow, that’s something I don’t want to rule out, but I think that’s kind of the boxes that they want to check,” Hoskins said. “It’s the nature of the game. We have to be able to go consistently on back-to-back-to-back days.”
The Phillies entered Saturday hitting just .179 over the last 10 games with six homers and just 25 runs scored. No team in baseball has produced worse than the Phillies, who are clearly feeling the loss of Hoskins. He leads the team in homers (24) and RBIs (68) but perhaps most importantly provided needed insurance in the lineup behind Bryce Harper.
“I would love to have it,” manager Joe Girardi said of Hoskins’ bat in the lineup. “I can tell you that.”
The Phillies survived on Friday without Hoskins but totaled just five hits and scored all four of their runs with two outs. It worked for a night but does not seem to be a recipe for long-term offensive success. The lineup’s struggles are chiefly why the Phillies went from first place to four games back in a span of seven days. And it’s hard to imagine those struggles turning around without Hoskins in the lineup.
“It’s nice to be able to do it one day, but the reality of the sport is that we have to be able to do it back-to-back-to-back,” Hoskins said. “I’m better today and I wish I had something else to say except that I’m waiting to see how it responds tomorrow. Just getting a lot more confident with it, too. That’s a big thing.”