PHOENIX — It was nearly two weeks ago that the Phillies traded for Asdrubal Cabrera.
Coincidentally, it has been just as long since Scott Kingery got a hit.
Kingery went 1-for-4 against the Cincinnati Reds on July 27, the day the Phillies acquired Cabrera from the New York Mets for pitching prospect Franklyn Kilome. Since then, the touted rookie is hitless in 20 at-bats, including an 0-for-3, two-strikeout game in Wednesday's 6-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"We popped him in there in the last game of a series against [Arizona starter] Patrick Corbin, and he ended up with his at-bat against a reliever, against [Brad] Ziegler," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "Really good pitchers on the other side. That's what I would chalk it up to."
In fairness, Kingery's playing time has been more irregular since Cabrera arrived. After starting at shortstop for most of the last three months, Kingery has started only five of the last 11 games, giving him fewer opportunities to get into a rhythm at the plate or emerge from a slump.
But Kingery has been one of the weakest hitters in the National League, posting a .595 OPS since the beginning of May. Kapler initially planned to start Kingery over Cabrera at shortstop when the Phillies have a ground-ball pitcher (Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta, in particular) on the mound, but the difference in offense between Kingery and Cabrera made him rethink things, at least against the pitching-rich Diamondbacks.
"To really look at this fairly," Kapler said the other day, "you have to say Asdrubal gives us our best chance to score runs."
Kingery might soon have company on the bench, too. Fellow shortstop J.P. Crawford, sidelined since mid-June with a broken left hand, is nearing his return from a minor-league rehab assignment at high-A Clearwater.
Kapler said earlier this week that the Phillies have discussed bringing back Crawford for this weekend's series at San Diego. They had a three-man bench for the final two games in Arizona but cleared a roster spot after Wednesday's loss by optioning righthander Enyel De Los Santos to triple-A Lehigh Valley.
It was largely overshadowed by the performance of starter Nick Pivetta, but reliever Victor Arano quietly recorded two big outs in the eighth inning of Tuesday night's 5-2 Phillies win after throwing 33 pitches one night earlier.
Arano, a 23-year-old rookie, has been as consistent as any Phillies reliever. In 41 appearances, the righthander has a 2.06 ERA, 47 strikeouts and only 13 walks in 43 2/3 innings, and has emerged as one of Kapler's late-inning setup options.
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"He specifically is going through lefthanded hitters and righthanded hitters pretty equally right now," Kapler said. "He's got a couple different fastballs and a slider that he can throw in and out of the zone at will. It's starting to look like a high-leverage reliever. I don't think it's any big secret that he's … been pretty spectacular for us."