Scott Kingery said he would still look at the lineup card each afternoon when he enters the Phillies clubhouse, but the rookie will now have a better idea of where he'll be playing before he searches for his name.
Kingery seems to have the most to gain as J.P. Crawford heads to the disabled list with a sprained right forearm. The Phillies played Kingery at six positions in his first 24 games, using him in a super-utility role. Kingery will now take most of Crawford's reps at shortstop. He finally has a set role.
"If I get some consistent time at shortstop, that will give me a chance to get more comfortable out there and just learn and make it feel more natural," Kingery said.
The Phillies will be without Crawford for a couple of weeks after a Sunday morning MRI revealed that he has a Grade 1 strain of his flexor pronator. Crawford was relieved that there was no ligament damage. He heads to the disabled list with just four hits in his last 24 at-bats, with 10 strikeouts and one walk. His spot on the roster was taken by Jesmuel Valentin, who transitioned during spring training to a utility role.
Kingery, who turned 24 Sunday, went 1-for-4 on his birthday with a single. He has just four hits in his last 34 at-bats after starting the season on a torrid stretch.
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said last week the team did not believe Kingery's juggling of positions had taken a toll on his offense. Kingery said it's challenging, but that it's he knows. Playing one position for an extended stretch should be a welcome relief.
"It's a good opportunity to see him get a little comfortable for a little while," manager Gabe Kapler said. "It doesn't mean that he's not going to move around, play the outfield and continue to get reps at second and third, but anticipate that he's going to get some significant playing time at shortstop."
Kingery becomes a regular shortstop just eight months after he tried the position for the first time in triple-A. The biggest challenge in moving from second base to shortstop, he said, has been adjusting to what he called "an aggressive position."
"You have to kind of attack the ball," Kingery said. "Where, at second base, you have more time and can sit back a little bit and wait for the ball to come to you. I've realized so far that because of that, I've sat back on a few balls, and I end up rushing, try to move my feet too quick, and end up making a not-so-great throw. It's still a learning process."
Jesmuel Valentin was at the Lehigh Valley Phantoms' playoff game on Saturday night when he received the call he said made his dream come true.
"I never expected that," Valentin said of being at a minor-league hockey game when he finally got his call to the majors. "It was some crazy feelings. It was amazing, man."
Valentin nearly made the roster after the past two spring training trips before being one of the final players sent to triple-A. His season was cut short last year because of a separated shoulder. The 24-year-old struck out as a pinch-hitter to end Sunday's 10-1 loss. He was batting .242 at triple-A with a .373 on-base percentage in 18 games. He will be used in both the infield and outfield.
He was with his mother when he found out he had been promoted. But he had some early trouble getting in touch with his father, Jose, who played 16 seasons in the majors and is a minor-league instructor with the Tigers.
"As soon as I got it, my dad just went crazy," Valentin said. "He was the first one calling me. I had so many people calling me that his call wasn't able to get through. So I talked to him on my mom's phone. It was a really nice moment to have with him."