CHICAGO — J.P. Crawford was back on the Phillies roster Wednesday night. He wasn’t in the lineup, though, not with a lefty (Jose Quintana) on the mound for the Chicago Cubs.
And for now, at least, manager Gabe Kapler won’t declare that Crawford has regained his job as the Phillies’ primary shortstop.
“I don’t think we have the whole blueprint built yet, and I don’t think there’s anything mapped out,” Kapler said. “I think we’re going to continue to discuss options and put the best club on the field every night for the Phillies.”
In April, Crawford was almost a nightly part of that equation. He started 20 of the season’s first 26 games, sitting only when the Phillies faced a lefthanded starting pitcher. But in the month that Crawford was sidelined by a strained right forearm, rookie Scott Kingery demonstrated improved defense at shortstop. Lately, Kingery has been having better at-bats, too, so much so that Kapler moved him to the No. 3 spot in the order for the last two games against the Cubs.
It’s conceivable that, against righthanded pitchers, Crawford could start at shortstop while Kingery reverts to the super-utility role he played in April. Both Kapler and infield coach Jose David Flores reiterated their confidence that Kingery’s growth as a big leaguer isn’t being stunted by shuttling among positions.
But Flores also acknowledged Kingery’s improvement at shortstop, a spot he hadn’t occupied regularly since high school.
“To tell you the truth, from the very first day that he started playing until yesterday, he’s come a long ways,” Flores said.
The Phillies’ comfort with Kingery at shortstop likely means Crawford will have to hit to stay in the lineup. He batted only .188 with three doubles, two homers, a .575 OPS, and 19 strikeouts in 64 at-bats before getting injured.
“We haven’t talked about [playing time] yet, but we’ll see what happens,” Crawford said. “I’ve got a chance to prove what I’ve got and go back on the field with my boys. I’m happy to be back with everyone.”
One thing is for certain: Crawford rejected the idea that time away helped him regroup.
“Not really. It’s missing time when I could be helping out my team in any way,” he said. “I’m happy to be back. But no, I didn’t have time to relax. I was getting better every day, trying to get back here as quickly as possible.”
If there was any doubt that rookie sensation Seranthony Dominguez has emerged as Kapler’s most trusted reliever, it was erased Monday night.
Never mind that the Phillies had a five-run lead in the ninth inning. When reliever Edubray Ramos walked the leadoff man, Kapler turned to Dominguez, who hadn’t pitched in four days. Dominguez retired Javier Baez, Albert Almora Jr., and Ian Happ on nine pitches to stretch his scoreless streak to 14 2/3 innings since making his big-league debut last month. Dominguez has retired 44 of 46 batters, 16 by strikeout.
“Seranthony is the guy we can depend on most to attack the strike zone out of the bullpen,” Kapler said.
Veteran reliever Pat Neshek threw a bullpen session, his third since suffering a strained flexor tendon in his forearm last month. The Phillies have not yet decided when he will begin a minor-league rehab assignment. … By virtue of starting last Sunday in San Francisco, Jake Arrieta won’t pitch in this series by one game, which only means he caught grief from his former Cubs teammates. “Anthony Rizzo sent me a text that said, ‘Man, I can’t believe you’re ducking the Cubbies!’ ” Arrieta said. “And I said, ‘I’m just trying to help you guys catch the [NL Central-leading] Brewers.’ ” … Legendary quarterback Joe Namath threw the ceremonial first pitch to Cubs manager Joe Maddon.