NEW YORK - The Phillies have always considered their potential logjam at third base a good problem, but it is one that still lacks a solution. Cody Asche's future at the position becomes murkier with Maikel Franco's possible arrival later this week.
One resolution could be a position switch for Asche, but that is not something the Phillies will explore in September. Manager Ryne Sandberg cited "the unfairness" to Asche.
"Right now, he's the third baseman," Sandberg said. "He's doing a good job there. He's come a long way. That's kind of where everything stands as we speak. Typically, a position change is more for instructional league and winter time. It's just a more relaxed situation. A player can make some mistakes and learn from them. That's the proper way to go about a position change, for me.
"And I think anything for him would be fairly drastic. He played some second way back when, but it's now been third. Anything else would be somewhat drastic. It would be a lot to ask."
If Franco is summoned, he could split third base with Asche in a platoon and gain at-bats against lefthanded pitchers. (The Braves will start lefty Mike Minor on Tuesday, the day the Phillies are expected to make their promotions.) The Phillies have three games in Oakland, where Ryan Howard could be the designated hitter with Franco at first base.
But the larger issue is the future. Asche, 24, could practice at left field, second base, or first base this winter under the tutelage of Phillies instructors. He played his first 64 minor-league games at second base in 2011 and none since.
Last September, infielder Cesar Hernandez played 22 games in center field, but Sandberg cited Hernandez's three-week crash course in the minors as the difference between his and Asche's situation.
Sunday is the last day a team can trade for a player and have him be eligible for the postseason. The Phillies are not expected to make a deal. . . . Aaron Nola, the No. 7 pick in the June draft, finished his first professional season with five shutout innings Friday for double-A Reading. Nola posted a 2.93 ERA with 45 strikeouts and 10 walks in 551/3 innings this season. He will not pitch this fall or winter.