Rhys Hoskins — there's nothing he can't do — leads Phillies' home run barrage

Rhys Hoskins — there's nothing he can't do — leads Phillies' home run barrage


Rhys Hoskins makes the best cheesesteak in town. He can run the Rocky steps in three seconds flat then knock out 50 push-ups at the top. One-handed. He can bench press the Liberty Bell, dunk on Joel Embiid and part traffic on the Schuylkill with a simple wave of his hand.

He is the most interesting man in Philadelphia. There is nothing he can't do.

And, on Thursday night, he became the first player in baseball history to be asked for his autograph in the dugout ... by a teammate ... during the game.

"He's creating history," said Cameron Perkins, who approached Hoskins with a ball in the dugout and requested an autograph after the rookie slugger belted his nightly homer in the Phillies' 10-0 demolition of the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park (see observations).

"What he's doing is ridiculous. It's fun to watch. It's still underappreciated. I don't think everybody understands how hard it is to do that over and over again."

Hoskins has been with the Phillies since Aug. 10 for a total of 34 games and 118 at-bats. He has 18 home runs, which is just three shy of the team lead held by Tommy Joseph. With 16 games left, he stands an excellent chance of leading the club in home runs — remarkable considering he did not hit his first home run until Aug. 14.

He hit four of them in the Phillies' three-game sweep of the Marlins. The Phillies won the first game in 15 innings then outscored the Marlins, 18-1, over the next two games.

Hoskins is now rivaling Carson Wentz as the hottest autograph in town, so hot that his teammates playfully ask for them in the dugout.

"It's fun," Hoskins said. "I don't think hitting a home run is ever not going to be fun — for everyone. When someone hits a home run, it gives the team a little jolt, a little spark of energy and obviously the long ball was good to us tonight."

Indeed, the Phillies hit four of them — three against Miami's Vance Worley in the second inning.

Jorge Alfaro hit a rising line drive into the second deck in left (459 feet) and Freddy Galvis hit one 414 feet to left-center before Hoskins smacked a two-run shot, his first to the opposite field (see video).

"That was fun," manager Pete Mackanin said of the entire night. "Alfaro hit that bomb, Freddy hit a two-run dinger and Hoskins hit another blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."

Clearly, Mackanin is running out of words to describe Hoskins' home run frenzy, which started with 29 in 115 games at Triple A Lehigh Valley.

But Perkins, a teammate of Hoskins in the minors and now in the majors, is not running out of words.

"I know you guys are new to this because he hasn't been up here, but I've been playing with him all year and this is the exact same thing as spring training and Lehigh Valley," Perkins said. "He's so good at putting quality at-bats together even when he gets out or strikes out. He sees a bunch of pitches or he'll walk. He's a very special hitter. He makes it look easy. Sometimes it can be frustrating to watch him because it's hit, hit, hit, hit. It's so hard and he makes it look so easy. He's a very good, very smart hitter."

Perkins came off the bench and hit the Phillies' fourth home run as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. His first big-league homer came against Miami lefty Justin Nicolino and he received a celebratory water-cooler dousing after the game.

"That was pretty cool," Hoskins said. "He put a good swing on it. I heard a couple of guys say they thought he was going to do it on that at-bat. The couple years I played with him he has hit lefties pretty well, so that was a special moment. I'm happy for him. It's something that he’ll always remember."

Perkins confirmed that.

"It's the moment I've been waiting for my entire life," said Perkins, a rookie who will turn 27 later this month. "Everyone wants the dream of having the cooler dumped on them, even though it wasn't as significant as I'd hope in a 9-0 game. But I'll still take it. Everyone dreams of hitting that walk-off home run. But getting the cooler dumped on you and finally getting one is definitely a dream come true."

Perkins will work on getting the ball as a souvenir.

He has a plan.

"If I have to bargain, I'll get Rhys to sign some balls," he said. "I'm sure the person who caught my home run ball would love Rhys' autograph. I'm going to need some of those."

Jake Arrieta is ready for game action; Mark Leiter Jr. is hurting

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Jake Arrieta is ready for game action; Mark Leiter Jr. is hurting

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Good news, bad news on the Phillies’ pitching front.

The good: Jake Arrieta will make his first Grapefruit League appearance of the spring when he gets the start Thursday against the Detroit Tigers in Clearwater.

Arrieta signed with the Phillies a week ago and threw a simulated game Saturday (see story). He will throw a side bullpen session Tuesday then be ready for Thursday’s start. It's still not clear when he will make his regular-season debut. Arrieta believes he will be ready to pitch during the first week of the season. Phillies management is taking a long-range view and will exercise caution in turning him loose. Either way, Arrieta projects to make 30 or more starts once he’s ready.

Now, the bad news:

Pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. headed to Philadelphia for tests on his right forearm. Leiter has been experiencing some tightness and soreness in the forearm, according to manager Gabe Kapler.

This is tough news for Leiter, who early in camp had impressed management with his performance and ability to pitch in a starting or relief role. Ten days before opening day, it’s likely that Leiter will have to open the season on the disabled list.

Starter Jerad Eickhoff will open the season on the DL with a right lat strain. It is not considered serious, but he is projected to be out into May.

Phillies lose Tommy Joseph to Rangers

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Phillies lose Tommy Joseph to Rangers

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Tommy Joseph is headed to the American League. The Texas Rangers claimed him off waivers on Monday. The Arizona native will head to his home state to join the Rangers for the remainder of spring training.

The Phillies designated Joseph for assignment last week. The move was made to clear room for pitcher Jake Arrieta on the 40-man roster. 

Joseph, 26, joined the Phillies organization in the summer of 2012 in the trade that sent Hunter Pence to San Francisco. At the time, Joseph was a catcher. A series of concussions nearly ended his career, but he converted to first base and forged his way to the majors in May 2016. He hit 43 home runs the last two seasons, but did not reach base enough to satisfy a front office that wants to build a lineup around players with that skill. The emergence of Rhys Hoskins last season and the signing of free-agent first baseman Carlos Santana this winter made Joseph expendable and efforts to trade him were fruitless.

Joseph’s power makes him a potential fit for a role as a designated hitter. He could also see some time at first base, with Joey Gallo owning a .199 career batting average against lefties.

Joseph is now on the Rangers’ 40-man roster.