CHICAGO - Maikel Franco promised that he would be ready to play Friday after he left Wednesday's game with a sprained ankle. He said his ankle would be fine after the Phillies had a scheduled off day Thursday.
Franco was right. He started at third base Friday and drove in both of the team's runs in a 6-2 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He went 1 for 2 with a walk and two RBIs. Franco had a sacrifice fly in the third and an RBI single in the seventh. The ankle was not an issue, manager Pete Mackanin said.
Franco has 11 hits in his last 26 at-bats, a stretch that spans seven games. He looks much more at ease at the plate than he did in the beginning of the month, which Franco started with 12 hits in his first 59 at-bats. He was snapping out of his funk just as he limped off the field Wednesday. It was an encouraging sign for the Phillies to see their lone source of offensive production healthy to play two days later.
Triple-A righthander Mark Appel was placed on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder. The injury explains Appel's lack of velocity in his last start on Sunday, when he was unable to get out of the first inning.
The Phillies acquired Appel from Houston as part of the Cole Hamels trade. He had a 1.64 ERA in his first four starts with the IronPigs but an 8.27 ERA in his last four. Appel was replaced in Lehigh Valley's rotation by righthander Ben Lively. The 24-year-old had a 1.87 ERA in nine starts at double A.
Also at triple A, outfielder Cody Asche and lefthander Mario Hollands joined the IronPigs on rehab assignments Friday. Both had been rehabbing in double A. Asche is returning from a rib cage muscle injury suffered early in spring training. Hollands is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in April 2015.