Another big opportunity for Darick Hall, who's trying to add versatility


BRADENTON, Fla. -- Darick Hall has gotten playing time in spring training with the Phillies every year since 2019, but this camp is markedly different than the previous four.

Never considered a top prospect or a player with eye-popping tools, Hall earned his ticket to the big leagues last season and had a successful run as the Phillies' designated hitter against right-handed pitching while Bryce Harper missed two months with a fractured thumb.

Hall begins this spring with a similar opportunity, in position to win an opening day job in camp as Harper recovers from Tommy John surgery. Harper is expected to miss most of the first half and the Phillies again have a need for left-handed pop.

“If he swings the bat like I think he can swing, we’ll figure out the roster,” manager Rob Thomson said after Hall’s two-hit day Monday against the Pirates.

Hall hit two balls hard, one to center and one between first and second, an area of the field that will be open more often this season than in years because of the elimination of the shift.  

He hit .250/.282/.522 last season with 18 extra-base hits (nine homers) in only 142 plate appearances. He barely faced lefties and he struck out 44 times with just five walks. But when a player shows he can pop one and hit the ball consistently hard when making contact, it doesn’t go ignored.

Hall had his moments against some pretty good pitchers in 2022, homering off of Miles Mikolas and doubling off of Sandy Alcantara, Spencer Strider, Marcus Stroman and Giovanny Gallegos. 


But he hasn't been handed a job this season. He needs to hit in camp and needs to show that last year wasn't a fluke or the result of pitchers not yet knowing how to attack him.

"It made me feel like I definitely had a place," Hall said. "Obviously, it gave me a lot of confidence because coming up through the minor leagues, I was never touted as a prospect and didn't always have a clear path, so the burden of wanting to get to the big leagues was always heavy. Then on top of that, I want to perform and master the level I'm at. 

"For me, when I got to the big leagues, the wanting-to-get-to-the-big-leagues drive, that was satisfied, so what took over was just pure performance. All I want to do is get the most out of my ability and play the best that I can, and it actually helped me center my focus. That's why I think when I did get the call last year, when I got there, I was able to play with confidence, I felt relaxed. In my head, all I had to do was focus on one thing. I think that's probably similar for a lot of guys coming up through the minor leagues. I had the taste of it last year and just kind of reflecting on that, improve and move forward."

There aren't many spots up for grabs for position players on the Phillies' opening-day roster, barring injury. Teams will carry 13 position players and the Phils have 11 locks in Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, Nick Castellanos, Alec Bohm, Bryson Stott, Brandon Marsh, Edmundo Sosa, Josh Harrison and Garrett Stubbs.

Players battling for those final two spots include Hall, Dalton Guthrie, Kody Clemens, Jake Cave and Scott Kingery. All but Clemens were in the lineup Monday, with Marsh and Bohm the lone everyday players making the short trip.

The ability to play center field will factor into the Phils' decision-making because they need a backup for Marsh. Sosa could see some time in center field throughout camp, but president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said last week that the Phillies will need to carry a backup center fielder irrespective of Sosa's work at the position.

That would seem to give Guthrie a leg up in earning a spot. Obviously, Hall will not be playing center field, but he has been working in the corner outfield to try to add versatility to his game, shagging fly balls in batting practice and working individually with Phillies first base/outfield coach Paco Figueroa.

"It's been going good," Hall said. "We've really been working on linear paths right now because most people are decent to the left or right, but just going straight back and straight forward, the footwork there is a little more specific. So just trying to nail that. 

"I've been taking fly balls in batting practice, power shagging. I had a day with Paco in the stadium where we just did some one-on-one work. Now it's about application. I like to watch other people, so now that I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do, watching the people that have done it for a while, that's the way you're going to grow."


Hall did not see any outfield time in the Phillies' minor-league system but played 78 innings of left field and nine innings of right field in winter ball in Mexico in 2020.

"I felt like I had a pretty good experience doing it, so now it's just about getting the reps and being able to read the ball," he said. "For me, I kind of have one speed, and the way I learn is by giving it all that I have, and that means in live BP, the first day I was taking cuts, I wasn't tracking (pitches). And in the outfield, it's going as hard as I can because if I go as hard as I can, I know what my room for error is. 

"That's just the way I've done it for years. That doesn't mean I'm going to be in hyperdrive, but that's the way I've always played. You don't make the team on the first day and you do need to perform over the course of camp and not blow yourself out after a week, come up sore and miss time. You can't make the team in the tub."

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