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Phillies' shortstop of the future? Despite mistakes, Freddy Galvis looks like the answer | Mike Sielski

He survived a rough stretch and has improved at the plate. There’s no reason yet to think prospect J.P. Crawford can supplant him.

Freddy Galvis plays baseball with the verve of an outlaw fresh from the confessional, his conscience clear, his confidence at its cup's brim. After the last three weeks, it's slightly amazing that he still plays this way.

It's been an eventful time for him. Eventful is a generous way to put it. On April 18, against the Mets, he cost the Phillies a run when he didn't run out a pop-up that fell in the infield. The Phillies still won the game, but the gaffe was so obvious and egregious that the franchise's controlling owner, John Middleton, told WIP-FM that he e-mailed team president Andy MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak to ask, in so many words, How will Mr. Galvis ATONE? A civic referendum on whether manager Pete Mackanin should a) merely admonish Galvis, b) bench him, or c) set him ablaze Salem-witch-style seemed inevitable.

Then, last week in Chicago against the Cubs, Galvis made poor throws from shortstop in back-to-back games. The first led to a run; the second, on a potential double play, led to the decisive run. What was wrong with him? Had he injured his throwing hand? Was it something else? This wasn't like him. Three big mistakes, the final two contributing to two lost games in the standings, and they shook Galvis so deeply (wink, wink) that Mackanin spent, maybe, 15 seconds consoling and bucking him up. Keep your head up, Freddy. That was the entire pep talk/dressing down that Mackanin gave him.

"He knows what kind of guy I am," Galvis said, "and he knows I don't need too much."

Galvis said this Sunday after the Phillies' 6-5, 10-inning victory over the Nationals, a game in which he gave the Phils an early lead with a two-run double (before running into an out while trying to allow the second run to score by drawing a throw to third base), then lined a sacrifice fly to center field to drive in the winning run. One of the frustrating parts of Galvis' approach at the plate is that, though he's just 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, he sometimes swings as if he fancies himself a bigger, stronger slugger - Harmon Killebrew in a man-bun. This time, though, when Nationals reliever Blake Treinen started him with an 86-mph slider down the middle, Galvis chopped at the pitch with a quick, short stroke without trying to hit the ball in the air. It was a smart, controlled action from a player who, days earlier, had appeared out of control.

"That's baseball, man," he said. "That's baseball. That's life. Sometimes we commit errors, mistakes, and we have to do something good. Two days ago, I make a throw and we lost the game. Today, I get a walk-off."

Through 30 games - a small sample size, to be sure - Galvis has served as an interesting case study for the Phillies' may-the-best-man-or-prospect-win strategy this season. It had been pretty much assumed that, once J.P. Crawford reached the majors, something would have to change for Galvis. Maybe he'd be consigned to the bench. Maybe the Phillies would have to trade him. Maybe, at best, he'd have to move to second base. He's among the best defensive middle infielders in baseball, so as long as the Phillies had enough offensive production from the rest of their lineup, the reasoning went, they could probably live with Galvis' inconsistent bat.

But Cesar Hernandez has played at an all-star level, batting .333 with a robust .873 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, continuing the progress in his game that began last June, making the case that he can remain the team's regular second baseman. Galvis' improvement hasn't been as stark, but so far, it has been obvious: His batting average is up 16 points (from .241 to .257). His on-base-percentage is up 26 points (from a lousy .274 to a less-lousy .300). The Crawford hype, which has been hovering over Galvis for the last few years like an anvil on a string, hasn't seemed to bother or affect him much.

"If you know yourself and you know what you do," Galvis said, "you can stay at the same level."

Or get better. Which Crawford, at triple-A, has not done. Over his 496 plate appearances at Lehigh Valley, his slash line is .224/.318/.289. Now, Crawford is just 22, and the Phillies have made it clear that they will give him time to display the same plate discipline that was the hallmark of his career in the lower minors. But the kid has to earn his promotion, and he's not close to doing so yet. Galvis has been better offensively at a higher level of baseball for a longer period of time, and if he maintains that measure of production or continues to increase it, the Phillies may have to start rethinking Crawford's timeline. Galvis is 27, which is hardly ancient, and he's already demonstrated, after these last three weeks, that he can shake off the kinds of blunders that can send ripples to the top of a baseball organization.

"He has not shown any lack of confidence at all," Mackanin said. "The thing about Freddy is he enjoys playing and he knows he's good and he wants to be good. So he eliminates that. He put everything behind him."

That's baseball, man. That's life. That's pretty much the key to both.