Purely for roster accounting purposes, it was Adam Haseley’s sprained left wrist that created the opening Thursday for the Phillies to call up top prospect Alec Bohm.
Make no mistake, though: Bohm is here to provide the offensive spark that neither Rhys Hoskins nor Scott Kingery has been able to light.
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What other explanation is there for why the Phillies replaced a lefty-hitting outfielder (Haseley) with a righty-swinging third baseman (Bohm)? Hoskins and Kingery are a combined 12-for-82 (.146) with two extra-base hits this season, not exactly the production that’s expected from the homegrown infielders and presumably core members of the Phillies’ next playoff team.
So there was Bohm, batting sixth and playing third base in his major-league debut Thursday against the Baltimore Orioles at Citizens Bank Park.
"He's a hitter," general manager Matt Klentak said. "We do think he can help our lineup."
On cue, Bohm notched his first major-league hit -- a double down the left-field line against Orioles starter Thomas Eshelman -- in his first at-bat. He finished 1-for-4, doubled off a runner at first base in the first inning, but was unable to come up with a potential double-play grounder in the fifth.
Overall, though, it was a promising start for the third overall pick in the 2018 draft.
“I was kind of surprised I didn’t really feel that nervous,” Bohm said. “Rhys told me someone once told him, ‘You only get one chance to hit a home run on the first pitch you see,’ so I decided to go for it. Once I saw the ball go past [third baseman Rio] Ruiz, I think I just started floating to second. I don’t even remember running.”
All along, Phillies manager Joe Girardi said the Phillies would promote Bohm only when they could give him everyday at-bats. That’s going to happen, Klentak said, with Kingery moving back to a utility role in which he will play some in center field in Haseley’s absence. Jean Segura will move over to second base, leaving third base for Bohm, who will also see time as the designated hitter.
Hoskins got a breather Thursday after hitting into three double plays one night earlier. The Phillies aren’t suggesting he will lose playing time (Girardi said he likely will play Friday night against the New York Mets), but Klentak did mention that Bohm is capable of playing first base, too.
Klentak said Haseley was injured Tuesday night when he jammed his left hand in a collision with Orioles first baseman Chris Davis. X-rays were negative and an MRI didn’t reveal structural damage. But Haseley has been unable play through the soreness.
“We don’t expect it to be much longer than the minimum [10 days],” Klentak said, “but we’ll see how he responds over the next few days.”
In the meantime, the Phillies will turn to Bohm to help an offense that was 22-for-100 with runners in scoring position entering play Thursday. Bohm, 24, hit 21 home runs and slugged .518 in 2019 across three minor-league levels, including 14 homers and a .500 slugging percentage at double-A Reading.
"As much as anything, we think he's earned it," Klentak said. "Now that our roster allows for him to come up and play every day, we think it's a good opportunity for him."
It might just put a little heat on Kingery and Hoskins, too.
Prized rookie Spencer Howard will start Friday night against Mets ace Jacob deGrom in the opener of a three-game series, a decision that was revealed when Vince Velasquez entered out of the bullpen in the sixth inning Thursday.
But with five doubleheaders on the schedule -- including next Thursday in Buffalo against the Toronto Blue Jays -- and more likely to come, Klentak said the Phillies will keep six starters stretched out to take a regular turn in what will effectively be a six-man rotation.
“It makes sense for us that both of those guys [Howard and Velasquez] stay on turn to be starter options for us,” Klentak said. “They might not pitch both ends of that doubleheader [against the Blue Jays]. But we’re going to need six starters during that stretch.”