FORT MYERS, Fla. — Six games into the exhibition schedule, Joe Girardi is really liking what he sees of two players.
One might end up being his third baseman this season.
The other will play in the low minors.
Jean Segura played well at third base in the Phillies’ 5-4 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday. He made a nifty backhand stop of a ball off the bat of Nelson Cruz to start a 5-4-3 double play in the first inning. He also had a pair of hits, including a double. He is 4 for 9 with two doubles in the early going.
“Jean had a really good day,” Girardi said. “That (double play) was not an easy play. What I like is it’s smooth, it’s not panicky. Looks like he’s been doing it.”
The Phillies are evaluating Segura’s ability to play third base. They are also taking stock of his comfort level at the position because he has never played there before. If Segura can handle third base, he will open the season there and Scott Kingery will play second base, his best position.
So far this spring, Segura has played three games at third base. If he continues to look good there, would the Phillies even bother to look at him at second, where he does have experience, this spring?
“That’s a conversation we’d have in a week or so,” Girardi said. “We have to continue to see what it looks like. Scott looks good at second. If Jean looks comfortable at third and it seems like Didi and him have a good thing going there, we might just leave him. I don’t know. It’s too early.”
Segura played shortstop for the Phillies last season. He is moving from that position to make room for Didi Gregorius, who signed a one-year, $14 million contract in December.
CATCHING THE BOSS’ EYE
Girardi, who caught for 15 seasons in the big leagues, has become smitten with Rafael Marchan, a catching prospect from Venezuela who turned 21 on Tuesday.
“The kid does a lot of things right,” said Girardi.
Marchan has gotten a chance to play in big-league camp because Andrew Knapp (oblique) and Deivy Grullon (tooth infection) have missed some time.
Phillies officials felt comfortable enough with Marchan’s defense to give him the start with Zach Eflin on the mound Wednesday. Marchan responded with two hits and was praised for his work behind the plate by Eflin. Marchan had one miscue -- he overran a high, spinning pop up -- but Girardi chalked that up to inexperience.
“I told him, ‘You finally made a mistake -- the pop up,’“ Girardi said with a laugh. “He just went after it too quickly.”
Girardi called Marchan “a master” blocker of balls in the dirt earlier this week.
Marchan is a 5-foot-9 switch-hitter. He was a shortstop until he started working out for teams as a catcher in 2015 and the Phillies signed him for $200,000. He has played 136 professional games in Single A the last two seasons and hit .285. He has yet to hit a homer in pro ball, but that doesn’t concern Girardi.
“Here’s my thought,” Girardi said. “He doesn’t have to show power. He just has to hit, be an adequate hitter, or he could become a really good hitter. Take his walks, handle the bat. Defensively, he’s going to save you runs by catching. Those are RBIs for me. He’s going to save you a lot of runs catching.”
Marchan went unselected in the Rule 5 draft in December, not surprising because of his age, experience level and still-developing bat. But if he has a good year in 2020, he might not get through the draft.
Girardi thinks Marchan can develop into a big-leaguer, much like another converted infielder once did with the Phillies.
“I’m not comparing here, but Carlos Ruiz was not a great hitter when he first came up,” Girardi said. “He’s got talent and you hope he figures out the bat part of it because if he does, you have something really special.”
That’s high praise.
Girardi said Adam Haseley checked out fine in concussion protocol but would not return to action for another day or two. Haseley banged his head on the ground attempting a diving catch on Tuesday.
Outfielder Matt Szczur has yet to play because of a hamstring injury. Reliever Robert Stock has forearm pain and will be examined on Thursday.
The Phillies play the Red Sox in Fort Myers on Thursday. Nick Pivetta will start.