Phillies

If Rhys Hoskins is back in left field next season, 'I don’t blink an eye'

If Rhys Hoskins is back in left field next season, 'I don’t blink an eye'

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Rhys Hoskins made his third start of the season at first base for the Phillies on Friday night and helped the club post a rousing 14-2 win (see first take) with his team-leading 31st homer.

All but dead in the NL East race, the Phillies can afford to use the final 2½ weeks of the season to get a read on a handful of players heading into next season (see story).

It was interesting to see Hoskins at first base because it is his natural position and there has been some recent rumble that the Phillies could consider trading Carlos Santana in the offseason and moving Hoskins back to first base.

How would Hoskins feel about moving back to first base full time?

“Of course, I would like to go back there,” he said after the game. “I’ve played that position forever.

“But do I want to go back there? I don’t care. I honestly don’t. I told Gabe (Kapler) this from the get-go. As long as I get to hit, I don’t care where I play. I really don’t.”

So if Hoskins is back in left field next year?

“I don’t blink an eye,” he said.

An emerging leader

Yes, Hoskins is this team’s leader, but at age 25 and with only a year of big-league service time, he is still growing into the role. The best is yet to come. The team-first attitude displayed in the above comments is why he could someday be a special leader.

Lineup clicks

The Phillies snapped a five-game losing streak with an 18-hit attack that included five home runs. Kapler loaded the lineup with righty bats against lefty Wei-Yin Chen. That was a big reason for using Hoskins at first and Santana at third. It allowed for another righty bat, Aaron Altherr, in left field. He had his best night of the season with two homers, two singles, five RBIs and a great second-to-home dash to score a run in the fourth.

“Gabe wanted to get as many right-handed bats as possible in the lineup,” Hoskins said. “A lot of (using Hoskins at first) was to get Altherr in there. Kap played the right card.”

Return of the heat

Zach Eflin lasted just three innings and gave up six runs in his previous start against the Mets. He gave up a hit to Jay Bruce on a fastball in the second inning of that game then stayed away from his fastball and relied on his slider. That pitch was hit hard.

Eflin went back to featuring his hard, four-seam fastball in this game and pitched 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball for the win. He got the fastball up to 96.8 mph.

“He looks best when he’s stepping on that four-seam fastball and utilizing it frequently,” Kapler said. "That's the pitch that will make him great."

Speed kills 

Centerfielder Roman Quinn was back in the lineup, stealing playing time from inconsistent Odubel Herrera. Quinn’s broken toe is clearly feeling better. He used his outstanding speed to beat out a potential double-play ball that resulted in two runs. He also had an infield hit. And a home run. With 16 games left, he should get a lot of playing time as he auditions for a big role in 2019.

A sight of relief 

Rookie Mitch Walding was hitless with 10 strikeouts in 14 at-bats with the big club this season. He won’t go hitless for the season, thanks to a two-run homer in the eighth inning. 

So what that it came against Bryan Holaday, the Marlins’ backup catcher, on a 61-mph breaking ball? Walding is off the schneid.

“Probably one of the happiest moments I've ever had in my life,” he said.

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The OG Phillie Phanatic wants Major League Baseball to lighten up

The OG Phillie Phanatic wants Major League Baseball to lighten up

Dave Raymond, the OG Phillie Phanatic, was alarmed when he read the news earlier this week.

No Mascots!

Has Major League Baseball lost its mind?

Or worse, its sense of humor?

Don’t misunderstand, Raymond, the man who breathed life into that big ball of green fur from the time it debuted in 1978 until 1993, is all for ridding the world of this nasty coronavirus beast. He’s all for social distancing, frequent handwashing and everything else that goes with protecting folks from getting sick. He knows how serious this thing is.

And that’s why he’s hoping that MLB won’t follow through on its plan to ban mascots from games when and if the sport comes back with a proposed 82-game schedule in July.

“I understand that only essential personnel can physically be at the games,” Raymond said Friday. “But I would argue that in these serious times mascots are more essential than ever.”

After shedding the Phanatic’s fur and handing the keys to the ATV to the equally brilliant Tom Burgoyne 26 years ago, Raymond dedicated his professional life to the concept of fun. It’s serious business. Raymond has owned and operated companies that help professional teams and college sports programs develop mascots/brands. He has trained mascots and helped found a mascot Hall of Fame. His current focus is motivational speaking. Everything is centered around the Power of Fun — which just so happens to be the title of his book — and how it can make a difference in people’s lives.

In these trying times when lives have been lost, when people have gotten sick and when the world has wrapped a mask around its face and gone into quarantine, Raymond is preaching louder than ever about the importance of a little fun and the respite it can offer in difficult times.

“It’s a scientific fact that laughing helps a person emotionally and physically,” he said.

That’s why he believes mascots need to have their place in baseball’s return.

“Mascots are a reflection of the fans’ heart and soul and part of the reason fans get emotionally connected to their teams,” he said. “During this time, we need the connection they provide more than ever. I understand that fans can’t be in the stadiums, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still engage them through mascots and character brands. Baseball needs to be creative and carve out space for entertainment.”

Raymond proposes that mascots be featured on television broadcasts when the game returns. It would be kind of funny to see a camera pan over to the Phanatic sitting all alone in section 305. Maybe even have Bobby Vinton’s Mr. Lonely play in the background.

If the Phanatic absolutely, positively cannot be in the ballpark, then he could be featured through technology and social media. Raymond proposed live streaming the Phanatic, wherever he might be, watching the game. Run it across social media platforms and have fans follow along. Raymond also proposed prerecording videos that could feature fans playing catch with the final throw landing in the Phanatic’s glove as he stands on the field. Another idea: Replace the Phanatic’s middle-of-the-fifth-inning dance skit with a live Zoom call on Phanavision and let fans log in. He’d like to see this stuff in every major league city.

“I understand it’s safety first, but there’s still room to lighten things up a little,” Raymond said.

Raymond is sharing this message with mascots who have been sidelined all over the country, from the major leagues to the minor leagues to the colleges. He has personally tutored many of them. They are his friends. Some have been furloughed from their jobs.

“It’s really devastating,” he said.

On Tuesday, Raymond will host a Zoom webinar for mascots and officials from teams, leagues and colleges that he has worked with over the years. It’s titled What The Heck Should My Mascot Do Now?

For Dave Raymond, the answer is simple:

Follow the rules, but by all means, be creative, embrace technology and mascot on.

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Phillies Talk podcast: Locations, opponents, details on Spring Training II

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Phillies Talk podcast: Locations, opponents, details on Spring Training II

On today's Phillies Talk podcast, Jim Salisbury and I discussed what Spring Training II could look like amid Jim's report that the Phillies will likely get to stay home and train in South Philadelphia.

• Benefits of having camp at home.

• Who could Phillies play in Spring Training II?

• What happens to the minor-leaguers? Will there even be a minor-league season?

• Just how big could regular-season rosters get?

• Spencer Howard will likely put pressure on Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez.

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