Phillies

Phillies to play Rhys Hoskins more at first base, Jorge Alfaro at catcher

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AP Images

Phillies to play Rhys Hoskins more at first base, Jorge Alfaro at catcher

With 19 games remaining in the season, the Phillies have shifted even deeper into an evaluation/development mode.

It was reflected in Pete Mackanin's lineup for Monday night's series opener against the Miami Marlins.

Mackanin unveiled what could be next year's opening day outfield with Odubel Herrera in center, Aaron Altherr in left and Nick Williams in right.

He gave J.P. Crawford his first look at second base.

And Jorge Alfaro was behind the plate with Rhys Hoskins at first base. Alfaro has recently begun to cut into catcher Cameron Rupp's playing time and Hoskins will start to cut into first baseman Tommy Joseph's.

"I want see Alfaro as much as I can," Mackanin said. "I'll get him the bulk of the reps [at catcher].

"And Hoskins will play more first base now that Altherr is back in the mix. I spoke to Tommy and he understands. We want to see Altherr, and Hoskins, we want to see him at first base."

Hoskins is a first baseman by trade. Since coming up from Triple A, he has gotten most of his reps in left field, which was convenient with Altherr on the disabled list. Altherr returned to the lineup on Sunday and will now push Hoskins to his natural position — the position he is expected to play on opening day next season.

Crawford is merely getting a look at second base. It's a way to get him at-bats without completely disrupting Freddy Galvis' season. Crawford is still considered the Phillies' shortstop of the future. Galvis, second baseman Cesar Hernandez, Joseph and Rupp could all be shopped for trades this winter as the Phillies continue to rebuild and transition. Second baseman Scott Kingery will likely be part of that transition, but, for future control reasons, probably won't be considered for a call-up until a month or so into next season.

Six-man rotation coming
Pitcher Henderson Alvarez was in the Phillies’ clubhouse, in uniform, before Tuesday night's game. Alvarez was recently signed by the Phils after a stint with the independent Long Island Ducks. He finished the season with Triple A Lehigh Valley and will be added to the big-league roster in the coming days. Mackanin said Alvarez would likely pitch on Sunday as the Phils finish the season with a six-man rotation. The Phils want to get a look at Alvarez and shave a few innings off their starters as the season winds down.

Alvarez, 27, was an All-Star with Miami in 2014 before his career was derailed by a shoulder injury.

Morphine found in Roy Halladay's system before fatal plane crash

Morphine found in Roy Halladay's system before fatal plane crash

Roy Halladay had morphine in his system when the plane he was piloting crashed and he tragically died in November, according to Halladay's autopsy report, released Friday.

Zolpidem, the generic name for Ambien, and amphetamines were also found in Halladay's system.

As TMZ points out via the Food and Drug Administration, the amount of Zolpidem found in Halladay's system (72 ng/ml) is more than enough to impair a driver and increase the risk of an accident.

Halladay had a blood alcohol content of 0.01, according to the autopsy report. 

The official cause of Halladay's death was blunt force trauma, with drowning a contributing factor.

The crash took place on Nov. 7 in the Gulf of Mexico, with more details emerging in a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board two weeks later.

Nick Williams talks up Phillies to a free-agent Cy Young winner

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AP Images/USA Today Images

Nick Williams talks up Phillies to a free-agent Cy Young winner

It's not clear whether the Phillies will add a starting pitcher before opening day, but surely they would like to.

General manager Matt Klentak “is busting his ass every single day looking for every possible opportunity to upgrade our team from every perspective,” manager Gabe Kapler said on Tuesday. “That includes looking at every option possible for the rotation.”

Klentak has kept a close eye on the trade market, but has found the prices (i.e., the young talent that must be surrendered) for top, controllable starters to be prohibitive.

He has kept a close eye on the free-agent market, but the length of contracts that top pitchers are looking for has given him pause.

For months, the Phillies have distanced themselves from speculation that has connected them to elite level free-agent pitchers Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta.

But with spring training less than a month away and both pitchers still unsigned, the Phillies would at least have to consider both pitchers if their asking prices experience a January thaw.

Six or seven years? No way.

Three years? Hmmm. Let's talk.

The Phillies are hosting a number of their young players this week. Rhys Hoskins, Jerad Eickhoff, Mark Leiter and Nick Williams were all in town on Tuesday.

Williams has set his sights on making the National League All-Star team in 2018.

“That's what I'm shooting for,” he said at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday. “I think I had a pretty good year last year. I'm shooting for more now. I don't think being an All-Star is shooting too high.”

Williams, 24, hit .288 with 12 homers, 55 RBIs and an .811 OPS in 83 games, mostly in right field, with the big club as a rookie last season.

To give himself the best chance of surpassing those numbers — and achieving his goal of making the All-Star team — Williams has spent the offseason in Austin, Texas, working with personal trainer Jeremy Hills, a former University of Texas football player.

Williams is working hard on agility, which will help him in the outfield and on the base paths.

And guess who one of his daily workout partners is?

Free-agent pitcher Jake Arrieta.

Back in Austin, between reps and protein shakes, Williams has occasionally talked up Philadelphia as a potential landing spot to Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner who will turn 32 in March.

“He loves it here,” Williams said of Arrieta, who, as a free agent and a Scott Boras client, is astute enough not to rule out any team, particularly one as deep-pocketed as the Phillies. “He has told me he likes working with young guys. I'm like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I'm not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I'm not really in his position.”

Williams smiled.

“I hope to be one day,” he said.

Williams marveled at Arrieta's work ethic in the gym.

And he expressed gratitude for the kindness and generosity Arrieta has showed him.

“He's bought a lot of my protein shakes,” Williams said.

Time will tell if the Phillies add a starting pitcher to the group that already consists of Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and other youngsters. The hunch is they will, though it's unclear what the magnitude of that talent will be. Klentak's search for an arm likely won't stop with the addition of one pitcher and it will likely continue through July. And beyond. The quest to build a championship-caliber staff never stops.

“The pursuit is very real,” Kapler said of Klentak's search for pitching. “I have a lot of trust that we'll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we're better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”