DUNEDIN, Fla. — Rhys Hoskins arrived to spring training five weeks ago, checking into Clearwater just after he flew to Minneapolis to see the Eagles win the Super Bowl. There's one week left and Hoskins, who homered twice Wednesday, seems ready to roll.
"I am ready to get out of here. I'm just ready for some good competition," Hoskins said after a 7-7 tie with Toronto. "But I'm not ready for the snow."
Hoskins will begin his first full season next Thursday in Atlanta and his approach at the plate looks primed for the regular season. He went 2 for 4 on Wednesday and has six hits in his last 16 at-bats. More important could be his uptick in walks, as Hoskins has walked five times in his last five games. Hoskins had just five walks in his first 12 games and he seems to be finding his plate discipline just as camp winds down. He has 10 walks and 10 strikeouts this spring, mirroring the strikeout to walk balance he has had over his career.
"Obviously he's swinging the bat beautifully but he's really controlling the at-bats," manager Gabe Kapler said. "One of the things that we know is more predictive than maybe how many homers he's hitting or how may hits he's getting is his ability to control the strike zone and he's doing that effectively. No doubt."
Hoskins batted second in the lineup on Wednesday and will either bat there or fourth on opening day. Kapler sees those two places as the spots in the lineup that come up most frequently with runners on base. The manager could regularly flip Hoskins and Carlos Santana between second and fourth depending on the matchup. Hoskins said he's fine with that.
"Hey, I'm in the lineup. I don't care where I hit," Hoskins said. "With the guys we have, the way they're going to construct the lineup, if I hit second, if I hit fourth, if I hit sixth, I think I'm going to be able to hit with men on base."
Hoskins' first homer came on an inside fastball, a pitch he said he had been struggling to hit this spring and expects to be tested by in the regular season. He ripped a high fastball for his second homer and sent it over the scoreboard in left-center field. He trotted around the bases and teammates waited to celebrate in the dugout. Hoskins, with a week left in camp, looked ready to go.
"It's getting there," Hoskins said. "There's obviously still some things that I'm trying to feel. It's really just about trusting yourself at the plate to do the things you know you can do and finding that feel. It's getting better day by day. Obviously today was a good day."
Nick Pivetta pitched just two innings Wednesday as the Phillies want to limit their pitchers work before the start of the season. The righthander has logged 20 innings this spring and pitching coach Rick Kranitz wants to cap each starter at 25 innings. Pivetta will reach that mark next week in his final start of spring training.
"I feel really good and ready to go for the season," Pivetta said.
Pivetta retired all six of the batters he faced in two innings. He has 12 strikeouts this spring and six walks in 15 1/3 Grapefruit League innings. His five other innings came in a minor-league game. The Phillies have asked Pivetta to elevate his fastball this spring and he seems to get more comfortable throwing his mid-90s fastball higher in the strike zone with each start.