LOS ANGELES — Gabe Kapler filled out his 51st Phillies lineup on Monday afternoon and, for the 48th time, Rhys Hoskins was batting either second or fourth. The manager has said since he was hired that those two spots would be reserved for the team's best hitters. And there was Hoskins — who entered Monday batting .159 this month with a .255 on-base percentage — batting second.
"We want one our best hitters in the two hole, and Rhys is one of our best hitters. That's how we look at it every single day," Kapler said. "We still think Rhys is an excellent hitter and one of the best offensive performers in the league and will be going forward. For that reason, we want that profile in the two hole."
Hoskins batted second Monday for the 10th straight start and has batted second in 18 of his 22 starts this month. He batted fourth for most of April before Kapler moved him to the No. 2 spot in May. Hoskins has since spiraled into the worst slump of his career. But Kapler's faith in him is not wavering.
"I also think this is the best baseball decision for the Phillies, for Rhys to be in the two hole or the four hole," Kapler said. "It's really important."
Gabe Kapler was in the weight room inside Dodger Stadium on Monday afternoon when Bob Stumpo, the Phillies' catching coach, asked the manager what it felt like to be back.
Kapler grew up in Los Angeles, ended his playing career as a Dodger, and spent three seasons overseeing the team's minor-league system before being hired by the Phillies. Stumpo was the fifth person, Kapler said, to ask him how felt. After all, it must have felt pretty cool to walk back into his old workplace as the manager of one of baseball's surprise teams.
"It's not how my brain works. I don't think like that," Kapler said. "I'm just trying really desperately to think how we can beat these guys the same way we're trying to beat San Francisco and same way we're trying to beat the Cubs. … I'm sure there are many people that that doesn't make sense for. I can compartmentalize and I am compartmentalizing. I'm thinking about winning tonight's baseball game."
Jerad Eickhoff will meet with a thoracic outlet specialist on Tuesday in St. Louis as he tries to determine what caused the twinge in his fingertips last week during his rehab start.
"In his mind, he just wants to know what's going on, so he can fix it," Kapler said. "And I really respect it. He wants to work really hard and fix the issues that he's having."