MILWAUKEE — Gabe Kapler watched closely as Rhys Hoskins struggled through May and the manager firmly believed that nothing was wrong with his lineup's best hitter even as Hoskins remained stuck in a wicked funk.
"I said his bat speed looks great," Kapler said.
Hoskins batted just .161 in May with a .253 on-base percentage. And then he spent 10 days on the disabled list with a fractured jaw, returned with a custom-made protective helmet, and produced his best results in seven weeks.
He doubled in the first inning of Saturday's 4-1 win over Milwaukee and hit a towering 431 foot homer that made Brewers starter Junior Guerra grimace. Hoskins has nine hits in 25 at-bats with three homers since returning from the DL, offering Kapler an indication that something may have been wrong.
It is not enough to say that Hoskins' troubles are completely in the past, but it is enough to give Kapler an indication that something may have been wrong.
"Now seeing him back, the bat speed looks quicker," Kapler said. "The bat is moving through the zone quicker. And sometimes that's just a result of timing. Sometimes it's a result of the body feeling refreshed. Not having as many aches and pains. We kind of joked about it, but it would be fun to just give lots of people 10 days off and see what happens. But obviously that's not a luxury that we have. I think his bat looks quicker through the zone. His timing and his rhythm looks better. He just looks way more confident at the plate."
Hoskins' homer – which had a 112 mph exit velocity – was the hardest homer of his career. It was a good swing, Hoskins said. The homer was a reminder of the threat the Phillies missed while their offense floundered when Hoskins was on the disabled list. Hoskins' presence gives the lineup an identity and that identity is showing signs of righting itself.
"I don't know if it's faster but it might just be a little easier," Hoskins said of his bat speed. "A little freerer. I'm trying to simplify everything. I think that that allows for the body to take over and for the swing to just work."
Luis Garcia was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right wrist. He said he felt discomfort a few days ago but was not sure what caused it. He did not feel anything on Tuesday in his last outing, when failed to retire any of the four batters he faced. Garcia plans to just rest his wrist and let it heal.
"We don't have big concerns," Kapler said. "We even considered waiting a little while longer. But we thought be conservative here because he's a big arm we're going to be depending on. The thought process was, in a few days, we'll get him throwing again. In a perfect world he comes off right when he's ready."