Didi Gregorius is off the injured list and the Phillies’ lineup is the healthiest it’s been in nearly two months.
Gregorius missed more than seven weeks with an elbow injury. He was activated Friday before the Phillies opened their series at home against the San Diego Padres and he homered in his second at-bat. The Phils won the game, 4-3, in 10 innings.
Infielder Nick Maton was optioned to Triple A to make room on the active roster.
Gregorius landed on his elbow catching a ball behind second base on April 16 at home against the Cardinals. The elbow continued to swell to the point that he had trouble extending his arm. He dealt with a setback during his rehab and was diagnosed with pseudogout, a form of arthritis. A treatment plan helped alleviate the pain.
The Phillies have played 79 games and Gregorius has been limited to 33. He’s hit .231/.273/.388 with four doubles, five homers and 23 RBI in 131 plate appearances.
He struggled defensively early in the season but improved some before the injury. His range is still a question mark and it’s expected there will be a defensive drop-off at shortstop from Ronald Torreyes back to Gregorius. He made a nice play in the first inning in his first opportunity, ranging up the middle to glove a ball and fire a strong throw to first to nab Jake Cronenworth. The Phillies are hoping his offensive impact will outweigh any potential difference in defense. In 2020, Gregorius was one of their best, most consistent and clutch hitters, hitting .345 with runners in scoring position and leading the team with 40 RBI.
“I thought Didi’s defense improved a lot once we got by those first three weeks,” manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday.
“I will use Torreyes. We’ll have to manage Didi when he comes back. It’s not like I’m going to run him out there seven days in a row. And I’m going to have to manage (Jean Segura's) playing time too, coming off of a leg injury.”
The Phillies had not had all of Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Andrew McCutchen, Segura, Gregorius and Alec Bohm together in the lineup since May 9, a span of 43 games in which they went 19-24. Friday was only the fourth time all season those seven regulars have started together.
If they're going to make a run, it probably has to start now with the trade deadline less than a month away. They have the Padres at home this weekend, then a seven-game road trip to Wrigley Field and Fenway Park before the All-Star break.