J.P. Crawford was left out of the lineup Monday night to give the struggling shortstop “some additional time to work on some things that he’s thinking about,” manager Gabe Kapler said.
It was the second respite in three days for Crawford, who went 0 for 4 on Sunday and entered Monday with just one hit in his first 23 at-bats. He was replaced Monday night by Scott Kingery, who hit his first major-league home run in the second inning. Kingery has played five positions over his first nine games.
“We all know that we have things that we need to work on. Some of those things are mechanical. Some of them are approach-driven. And some of them are just, I need to grind it out in the cage. I need to whack a thousand balls,” Kapler said, when asked what exactly Crawford was working on. “So, I’m kind of leaving that to J.P. If he was standing right next to me right now, I’d say, ‘Hey, J.P., what are you going to work on today in the cage?’ And he might tell me. Yes, it’s an individual thing. As players, we’re our best hitting coaches a lot of times.”
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Crawford, who has struck out eight times with just one walk, does not look right at the plate. A poor spring training has seemed to carry into the start of the season. He cannot find his timing and said Sunday that his swing “feels long.” He believes that he has failed to carry his work from batting practice into the game. Kapler was asked before Monday’s game if he agreed with Crawford that the batter’s swing is long.
“I don’t,” Kapler said. “It’s not something that I’m thinking about all that often, like whether it’s long or whether it’s short. What I am thinking about is that I do have a lot of confidence in J.P.’s ability to come out of a tough stretch and be better on the other side.”
Crawford said Sunday that he is working himself into good counts and making the pitcher grind. He is averaging 4.4 pitches per plate appearance, which ranks as the 15th highest mark in baseball. He’s just missing his pitches to hit, Crawford said. The Phillies will cling to Crawford’s ability to see a lot of pitches during his early struggles.
“Eventually, those pitches that are strikes at the end of the at-bat might turn into balls. And he might be walking instead of making an out,” Kapler said. “It also means that he’s giving a pitcher more of a chance to make a mistake, and run into a barrel where he might drive a ball the other way or into the gap.”
Scott Kingery was credited Monday with a steal from March 30 on a play originally ruled a wild pitch. The change joins Kingery with Jimmy Rollins as the only Phillies players since 1900 to have multiple hits and a steal in their major-league debut. …Aaron Nola will start Tuesday against Reds righthander Homer Bailey.
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