CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A week ago, when Rhys Hoskins began to feel soreness in his left shoulder, the plan called for him to rest for a few days before playing in the Phillies’ final two spring-training games. But when the lineup was posted Sunday morning, Hoskins wasn’t in it.
A cause for concern?
“There’s been a steady improvement over the last week now, which is encouraging,” Hoskins said. “Still a little soreness, but I think the plan is to play [Monday] and be ready for opening day.”
Hoskins took his usual round of batting practice on a back field Sunday, then tested his shoulder with swings against a high-velocity pitching machine. The session was supervised by manager Gabe Kapler and athletic trainer Scott Sheridan, in addition to head team physician Dr. Steven Cohen.
Asked if he’s surprised that the soreness has lingered throughout the week, Hoskins said, “I guess me, without a medical background, yeah. But that’s just, I guess, the nature of it from what I’m being told. The doc and the trainers are happy with the progression that’s been made, and so am I.”
In Hoskins’ absence, third baseman Maikel Franco made his second spring start at first base. If Hoskins ever missed extended time, Franco would move across the infield and Scott Kingery would play third base.
But the Phillies still don’t anticipate needing to go that route Thursday when they open the season against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Hoskins is on track to play in Monday’s spring-training finale, according to Kapler.
“There was nothing acute or anything like that [for holding Hoskins out of the lineup Sunday],” Kapler said. “It’s simply that Rhys is very important to our season, and we’re always going to lean on the side of caution, especially as we’re so close to opening day. We just want to allow him to continue to improve.”
Odubel Herrera went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs in the Phillies’ 11-4 victory over an Orioles split squad at Spectrum Field. Despite straining his left hamstring early in camp and not playing in a Grapefruit League game until March 16, Herrera is likely to be the opening-day center fielder.
Kapler challenged Herrera to improve his focus this season. Herrera admitted early in camp that there were times when he lost focus last year, and he went from being one of the majors' best hitters in April and May to one of the worst for the season's final four months.
"He's done a pretty good job of meeting the bar. He's got a lot of work to do," Kapler said. "We want him to maintain this level of focus. It's wonderful to do it in spring training. Our expectation is that he continues to maintain that focus and that concentration and that high level of play throughout the season."