The Phillies had to cross a few hurdles earlier this month to acquire a custom double-flapped helmet for Rhys Hoskins to protect his fractured jaw.
The league's helmet manufacturer had never made a helmet like that. So it took a bit of legwork to acquire the helmet — in three color variations — in time for Hoskins to return from the disabled list. And the Phillies might see some more return on that investment.
Hoskins is considering sticking with his double-flapped helmet even when his fractured jaw heals. He will meet with an oral surgeon next week and the doctor will tell him then if he still requires the protection.
"We'll cross that bridge when we get there," Hoskins said. "I can tell you that it's definitely been talked about and I definitely thought about it."
Hoskins homered on Wednesday and Thursday to enter Friday night's game with seven homers and a 1.107 OPS in his 18 games since returning from the DL and strapping on the helmet he said resembles X-Men villain Magneto. Hoskins looks — in both helmet style and approach at the plate — like a different hitter than he was before being injured.
"We saw frustration. And we saw a guy who was willing to make adjustments and the right adjustment," manager Gabe Kapler said. "And then we saw the April version of Rhys that was kind of like the version from last year. We just kind of waited it out. I don't think it was a direct result of getting hit in the face. But I think some of the down time allowed him to relax a little bit and maybe process and absorb what had happened to that point in his career. And since then he's just been kind of lights-out."
The injury, which kept Hoskins out of the lineup for nine games, allowed him to reboot. Hoskins said he had been overthinking. But Kapler is confident that the adjustment — which Hoskins made during his time away — would have come even if he was healthy and playing every day.
"So, if we were in that situation, rewind back to the Dodgers series, and he struggled and we all were going to lay our money down, my money would be on, 'We continue to play him, he gets various days off, and this stretch that has come would come,'" Kapler said. "Would it have come right at the same time? I don't know. Was he showing signs already of having some big games? There were a couple of, 'Whoa, that looks like the real Rhys,' sprinkled in five, 10 days before that happened."
Hoskins was asked after Thursday's game if he was considering keeping the helmet because of superstition or comfort. His answer: Yes.
"He is a little bit witty," Kapler said.