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Phillies' Maikel Franco still bothered by sore left wrist

Third baseman says he feels OK when he is fielding, but felt 'something' in his wrist when he took some swings.

Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco (7) on the bench during game against the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park.
Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco (7) on the bench during game against the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park.Read more(Eric Hartline/USA Today)

NEW YORK - As the Phillies went through their normal pregame activities, Maikel Franco manned third base, fielding plenty of ground balls. He never had a turn in the cage, though.

The 23-year-old rookie, once a potential National League Rookie of the Year candidate, remains sidelined with an injured left wrist after being hit by a pitch last month in Arizona. After taking 20 swings of soft toss before last night's game at Citi Field, he still felt "something" in his wrist.

Interim manager Pete Mackanin said Franco was still "symptomatic."

Franco, who was hitting .277 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI and a .830 OPS in 326 plate appearances, has a regularly scheduled doctor's appointment next week, when he will be re-evaluated. He said he is pain-free taking grounders and playing catch, but not when he makes contact when swinging.

The Phillies were hopeful to get him back in the lineup in the coming weeks. So yesterday's events - Mackanin wouldn't call it a setback - came as a surprise to both player and staff.

"Before, I was feeling that I was getting way better," Franco said. "And when I started swinging again, it happened again. And I was a little bit surprised."

Franco said he was unsure of what the next step would be, outside of the doctor's appointment.

At this point, it's getting closer to the point at which the Phillies will shut him down for the season. Mackanin said a decision on that could come in a week or so.

"I don't see the point of playing him for the final week or 10 days of the season," Mackanin said. "I thought he might be back earlier than it seems he will be.

"Unless he's 100 percent, we're going to be careful."

The Phillies have reason to be cautious with its young third baseman, despite how badly they miss his bat in the middle of the lineup.

"It's a big deal for me, because I want to play," Franco said. "So it's hard to take. And I have to understand my situation right now."

Franco is scheduled to play this winter in his native Dominican Republic. He'll have plenty of opportunities there to make up for lost time. Last offseason, Franco got an additional 170 at-bats between the Caribbean Series and the Dominican League, hitting .265 with eight home runs.

"If [this season] ends, I will just go play winter ball in the Dominican and try to come back ready for everything," Franco said.

Sixth man

As the starts pile up for Phillies rookie Aaron Nola, he inches closer to a number the Phillies think will be enough for his first full professional season. Including his four innings in last night's start against Mets ace Matt Harvey, Nola has pitched 163 innings among stints in Reading, Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia.

One of four rookies in the current five-man rotation, Nola's inning count will likely top out around 180 to 185 before he is shut down, Mackanin said. But he will likely get an extra day of rest in the near future.

"We're most likely going to go to a six-man rotation, so that'll enable us to push him back an extra day to get him closer to the end of the season," Mackanin said.

That doesn't mean Mackanin will have a quick hook when it comes to Nola, however.

"I'm not going to monitor his innings during games," he said.

"But when he reaches that total, it's in our best interest to back off."

The Phillies already announced this weekend's starters in Boston, with rookies Adam Morgan, Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff taking the mound, in order. So the sixth man - likely Jerome Williams - won't be added to the rotation until at least the beginning of next week.

A closer look

At this point in the year, and where the Phillies are in the standings, Mackanin knows the final month of the season is mostly about finding out what the Phillies have in their young talent.

Switch-hitting Darnell Sweeney, acquired from Los Angeles in the Chase Utley deal, led off for the second straight game last night, moving from centerfield to leftfield as Mackanin inserted Odubel Herrera back in the lineup. Sweeney, who recorded his first multi-hit game on Tuesday, hit a solo home run in the seventh inning last night. He'll be worked into the lineup with fellow rookie Aaron Altherr, so the Phillies can take a look at the pair. That might come at the expense of playing time for Domonic Brown and Cody Asche.

"We haven't seen enough of Sweeney, but it looks like he can swing the bat a little bit, and it doesn't mean that he can't play a corner position, or even play at second base," Mackanin said. "Once again, he's got a handful of at-bats, and we just gotta keep seeing him. That's what this whole year is about, to see as many guys as we can and decide who's going to be a good fit."