PHILADELPHIA — Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg went with a different look for his starting lineup Tuesday night against the Washington Nationals.
Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both received days off and Sandberg worked in a few players that could be a part of the future in Philadelphia.
So it was fitting that Director of Player Development Joe Jordan spoke about players in line to join the team next month — and next season, as well as beyond — before a 4-3 win over the Nationals.
Maikel Franco, who has been one of the hottest minor leaguers over the past few weeks, was one a name discussed.
On the surface it makes sense for him to join the Phillies when major league rosters expand Sept. 1 but don't be surprised if he doesn't. Playing time is the biggest concern the Phillies have and they don't want him to simply sit on the bench.
"Is [a callup] the best thing for him from an experience standpoint?" asked Jordan. "Sure. He can gain a lot from that. But there is a current roster here [in Philadelphia]. He plays two positions that we have two guys playing. That's something for [general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] and Ryne to talk about. Can we really get the most out of it for our current club and does that work in line with what's best for the player?"
Since playing time could be an issue, Jordan was asked if Franco could be moved to another position. Jordan quickly dismissed that thought and said Franco would play either third or first.
Despite what happens next month, Franco is still scheduled to play winter ball.
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez on the other hand, is almost a lock to join the Phillies next month.
Jordan said the starter-turned-reliever has come a long way since his struggles in spring training and looked like a major league pitcher when he saw him Monday night at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
It's possible Gonzalez could eventually be stretched back out to be a starter but the Phillies' main focus was to get him on a roll like he is now.
One player that will be a starter is the organization's first round pick in the 2014 draft, Aaron Nola, who will make one more start this year, Friday in Trenton with Double-A Reading.
After that he'll be shut down — he won't pitch competitively this winter — but he will participate in the Florida Instructional League program.
As far as players that are not as recognizable, Jordan said to be on the lookout for two current outfielders for the Single-A Clearwater Threshers — right fielder Brian Pointer and Roman Quinn, a center fielder.
Jordan said Pointer is starting to look like a power hitter and they're going to try to extend his season with playing time in winter ball while Quinn is being considered the Phillies' priority player in the Arizona Fall League this year.
"[Quinn has] developed as a player so much," said Jordan. "I mean we made a lot of progress with Roman Quinn and just getting him healthy [after rupturing his Achilles]. … For me, he's going to be an impact player. I still believe that. He looks better and better in center field every day. The fact that he has 30 [steals] after missing two months, it's impressive when that's the thing we're worried about — how much did he lose? But offensively he's coming, left-handed he's behind, but again he's still learning that part of it. We're excited about him."
It will be some time before the Phillies can count on production from either Pointer or Quinn, but they did get a boost from one of the younger players in Tuesday night's lineup.
Freddy Galvis, 24, put Philadelphia on the board with a two-run homer in the fifth, after the Phillies only managed two hits off Washington's Gio Gonzalez through four.
Another player that hasn't received a plethora of playing time in recent weeks, Grady Sizemore, began the inning with a triple.
Darin Ruf is not necessarily young, but he still can be considered a prospect because with the limited playing time he's received, the Phillies are not sure what he has to offer.
He continued to make use of the starts he gets by hitting a solo shot in the sixth to make it 3-0. Ruf was 2-for-3 and has a .839 on-base plus slugging percentage since his major league debut Sept. 14, 2012. No Phillie has a higher OPS in that time span.
Phillies starter Cole Hamels put together six solid innings before getting into trouble in the seventh. The left-hander gave up two singles and a walk to load the bases with just one out. Two more singles made it 3-2, but Hamels made it out of the inning without more damage.
Hamels surrendered the lead the following inning, as Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a game-tying home run. Sandberg immediately relieved Hamels with Ken Giles, who struck out all three batters he faced.
Hamels didn't look pleased when he was removed and ignored questions about his frustrations and proceeded to talk about the game in general. When pressed to clarify, Hamels repeated, "It was a good game that we won today," and ended the interview.
The Phillies were able to retake the lead in the bottom half of the inning. Ben Revere started the frame by reaching first after a video review showed Nationals first baseman Kevin Frandsen was pulled off the bag by a throw. Revere stole second and advanced to third on Jimmy Rollins' fly out. Carlos Ruiz knocked Revere in with a sacrifice fly.
Sandberg was most pleased with the way his spot starters played.
"Good energy," said Sandberg. "Actually played some good defense. [Andres] Blanco stopped a possible double, knocking the ball down keeping it in the infield. Freddy made a nice play. But guys were hopping around pretty good and did some things with the bat."
Notes: Jonathan Papelbon earned his 32nd save of the year and 100th save as a Phillie. He is now tied with Brad Lidge on the club's all-time saves list.
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