J.P. Crawford will find out Sunday morning how serious his arm injury is after he left Saturday night’s game against Atlanta in the fifth inning.
“I relayed to third and my arm went numb after,” Crawford said. “I just lost feeling.”
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Crawford has a right forearm strain. A trip to the disabled list is possible, the manager said. Crawford said he does not have ligament damage and will have an MRI exam when he arrives at Citizens Bank Park before the series finale against the Braves. He felt the injury in the fifth when he made a relay throw to third base on Freddie Freeman’s triple. He was removed before his next at-bat. If Crawford heads to the disabled list, a likely replacement would be outfielder Roman Quinn or utility player Jesmuel Valentin.
Crawford said the injury has been bothering him for a few days, which could explain his increased errors over the last week. Crawford entered Saturday tied for the National League lead with five errors, three of which came in the previous four games. Kapler compared his errors to having a cold.
“It’s not always something you have to work on. Sometimes it’s just like a cold. You have to let the cold run out,” Kapler said. “There’s not always the medicine that you give somebody. The cold just has to run its course. Sometimes some last longer than others. Streaks of not getting hits last longer than others. And some are prolonged because you put a little additional pressure on yourself. With J.P., it’s just a matter of time of him getting into his rhythm. It will cure itself.”
Crawford’s fifth error came two innings after he made a diving stop and one inning after he helped turn a terrific double play at second base. Cesar Hernandez slid to field a grounder, spun, and flipped it to Crawford, who turned and fired to first. Crawford used his athleticism to move away from the bag as he threw and avoid the sliding base runner.
He has shown the athleticism this season to make tremendous plays, but on the routine ones he sometimes tends to fall short.
“Trusting his athleticism is the most important thing he can do right now,” Kapler said. “I’ll just be really succinct with that.”
Crawford’s .938 fielding percentage is the third-lowest mark among shortstops who have played at least 10 games. It is his athleticism that helps the Phillies believe he is better than that. And each lapse will be magnified this season after Crawford took over for Freddy Galvis, who finished the last two seasons as a Gold Glove finalist.
“The first thing you do is you tell him you support him and you believe in him,” Kapler said. “Which is absolutely direct, straightforward, and the truth. We believe in you. You are a great athlete. We’ve seen you play shortstop at the highest level before. You’ve done it your whole life. We trust believe that as long as we keep working, it will show up. When I say ‘we,’ I mean our entire staff and J.P. That’s happening. It’s actively in motion.”
Eickhoff makes progress
Jerad Eickhoff took another step in his recovery Saturday afternoon as he threw two simulated innings and pitched with hitters standing in the batter’s box. Eickhoff, who has been sidelined since mid-March with a strained upper back muscle, will likely report soon to Florida to begin a rehab assignment. The righthander is expected to return in the late May. Kapler said the team was “encouraged by what we saw today.”
“He looked really good,” said Andrew Knapp, who caught Eickhoff. “The fastball was coming out good. He threw probably 10 to 15 curveballs, five to six change-ups, and everything looked good.”
Braves rookie Ronald Acuna continues to impress.” When we walked up to exchange lineup cards yesterday, I asked Walt Weiss about him,” Kapler said. “He said, ‘Kap, these guys don’t come around very often.’ And this was a guy who was with the ’80s A’s. So to hear him say that, yeah, this is a special talent we’re seeing.” … The Phillies have not named a starter to take place Ben Lively’s place Tuesday in Miami. … Vince Velasquez starts Sunday’s series finale against righthander Brandon McCarthy.