SAN FRANCISCO — Scott Kingery hopped to his feet Thursday afternoon in the series finale at Dodger Stadium, and was brought back to batting practice.
This play — a long throw from deep in the hole at shortstop — was the type that Kingery asked infield coach Jose Flores to drill him with a day earlier after he short-armed a few long throws that reached first base on three hops.
The pair worked on Kingery's timing — knowing when to rush and when to relax — as the natural second baseman adjusts to the longer throws at shortstop. And they tried to master the technique of using the ground on long throws to help the ball carry to first base.
That pregame session went well, but this — the ninth inning of a one-run game — would be the true test. Kingery, with that workout fresh in his mind, fired to first base and reached Carlos Santana with a one-bounce throw. Santana made a smooth grab, the Phillies had the first out of the inning, and it was another example of the comfort Kingery is feeling at shortstop.
"Every game, every play, the more situations I get put in helps me out and just helps me learn the position a little more and feel more natural," Kingery said. "I'm sure there are some situations that I haven't been tested yet, and I'm sure those will show up. But every single day out there is more reps and more game action and it feels better."
But just as Kingery begins to look confident at shortstop, it becomes clear that his time there is limited. J.P. Crawford is rehabbing from a strained forearm with high-A Clearwater and could move soon to triple-A Lehigh Valley. Kingery will soon return to the role he had as the season began, when he played six positions in his first 20 games.
"I think it's possible that we move him around the diamond again," manager Gabe Kapler said. "J.P. is going to take down regular reps, so we may have to move Scott around a little bit, but he's capable of performing under those circumstances. He demonstrated that. I also think it's going to be good for him to see action at those other positions."
Gabe Kapler started his campaign Saturday afternoon to get Cesar Hernandez into the All-Star Game. Hernandez entered Saturday's game leading all National League second basemen in on-base percentage, stolen bases, and walk percentage.
"For me, I think from a profile perspective, what he does for our club, those are some pretty important characteristics," Kapler said. "It's an important profile, and it's at least worth considering. So I wanted to bring that to your attention."
The Phillies had just one all-star in each of the previous four seasons. Their winning record could net them multiple selections this season. And who else does the manager think could go?
"I don't want to be too much of a homer here," Kapler said. "The first thing I would submit is there's still time, so a 10-game stretch of brilliance, a 10-game stretch of really good performance could put a lot guys into the mix. I don't think Jorge [Alfaro] is crazy by any stretch, Odubel [Herrera], Cesar, Nick Pivetta, [Jake] Arrieta, [Aaron] Nola — I think all of those guys are in the conversation."