The Phillies played their 11th game of the season Wednesday night, a 4-3 win over Cincinnati after 12 innings, and Scott Kingery was in the starting lineup for the eighth time. That's not surprising because the Phillies promised Kingery he was going to get plenty of playing time after he signed a six-year deal worth $24 million near the end of spring training.
What's amazing is that not one of his starts this season has come at second base, the position he played almost exclusively in the minor leagues until near the end of last season at triple-A Lehigh Valley. That's a reflection of how well Cesar Hernandez has played at second. It's also an indication that manager Gabe Kapler is infatuated with Kingery's versatility.
"One of the things that is cool about Scott is that every day he comes prepared to play any position on the field," Kapler said before the Phillies closed out their six-game homestand against the Cincinnati Reds. "We've seen that he can go to right field, he can go out to left, shortstop, third base and handle all those positions seamlessly. He's just that athletic and that prepared."
It was left field for Kingery in the series finale against the Reds, which meant that Rhys Hoskins was not in the starting lineup for the first time this season. Hoskins, even after striking out three times and failing to reach base for the first time in 10 games Tuesday, still went into play Wednesday tied for the National League lead with a .375 batting average. He was also second to Washington's Bryce Harper with a .500 on-base percentage and a .719 slugging percentage.
Kapler said Hoskins should not get used to sitting, but the manager liked the fact that his slugging leftfielder would get Wednesday and Thursday off because the Phillies do not play again until Friday in Tampa, Fla.
"With a long stretch of a lot of games coming up, he is going to be in the lineup just about every day for the rest of the season," Kapler said. "We have to kind of pick and choose the times when he can get back-to-back blows so he can be super healthy going forward and feel like his timing is still synced up and on point."
Kingery is also likely to be in the lineup all three games in Tampa Bay this weekend because the Phillies will be able to use a designated hitter at Tropicana Field.
"That's pretty exciting," Kapler said. "We know that every day we come to the ballpark that there is going to be somebody that isn't playing that night that is a really good baseball player and that could probably play in a lot of other lineups that night. That's a really good problem to have. At the same time it makes it a little bit challenging and now that we have an additional spot to fill in the lineup in Tampa … it's going to make things a little bit easier for a few days."
Tommy Hunter threw off the mound early Wednesday afternoon and went through some fielding drills to test the strained right hamstring that sent him to the disabled list near the end of spring training. Hunter said it went well and he feels he is close to being ready to return. … The Phillies are off Thursday and open a six-game road trip Friday at Tampa Bay. Vince Velasquez (1-1, 5.19) will face Jake Faria (0-1, 14.29) Friday at 7:10 p.m.