Scott Kingery is a spring star again

USA Today Images

Scott Kingery is a spring star again


DUNEDIN, Fla. — Scott Kingery is off to another great start in spring training and it’s still not going to land him in the big leagues.

At least not immediately.

Oh, he’s coming. He’s not far away. But the Phillies, for now, are set at second base with Cesar Hernandez and that makes it easy to have Kingery open the season at Triple A, where he spent half of last season. Delaying the start of Kingery’s major-league clock by even a month or so means he won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2024 season. If Kingery were to open this season in the majors, he could be eligible for free agency after the 2023 season. That extra year of control will be nice for the Phillies if Kingery ends up being the player they think he will be.

Kingery, who hit his second homer of the spring in Wednesday’s 7-1 loss to the Blue Jays, is unfazed by it all.

“I understand you have the business side of it, how it works where I get an extra year of control,” he said. “I had some struggles [at Triple A] a little bit toward the end of last year, so why not go there and fine-tune them for a little while and see if I can get better so I can be even better and bring that with me for when I finally do get called up?”

Kingery, who turns 24 on April 29, didn’t struggle too much last year. His combined totals at Double A and Triple A: .304, 29 doubles, 26 homers, 65 RBIs, 29 steals, .889 OPS. He thinks he can improve his work on the bases and steal 45 this season.

Kingery was an early-camp star last spring. He went 6 for 21 in 10 games with a double, two homers and five runs scored en route to logging a 1.019 OPS. So far this spring, he is 4 for 9 with two homers.

“He’s a smart kid,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He understands a lot of what’s going on around him and nothing discourages him. He’s got laser-sharp focus on the step in front of him and that is the next at-bat or play in the field. He just wants an opportunity to shine and he’s shining. He has that unique special makeup you don’t find very often.”

Kingery added some versatility to his game by playing some third base and shortstop at Triple A last season. He is likely to get a look in center field at some point this spring. He absolutely projects as the Phillies’ second baseman of the future, but the future at that position might not begin until the team cashes in on Hernandez’s trade value. Kingery could get to the big leagues before that, possibly as a stopgap at third base if Maikel Franco doesn’t produce consistently this season.

How will Phillies handle center field with oft-injured Roman Quinn down again?

How will Phillies handle center field with oft-injured Roman Quinn down again?

The Phillies are going through centerfielders as fast as they’re going through shortstops.

Roman Quinn, who went down with a strained right groin muscle in Wednesday night’s game in New York, was placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday. He was replaced on the roster by outfielder Dylan Cozens.

Quinn is going to be out a lot longer than 10 days. An MRI performed on Thursday afternoon revealed a Grade 2 strain, which is worse than a Grade 1 or mild strain. Quinn is a player who relies on the speed that his legs generate. The Phillies will be very cautious in bringing him back.

“I don’t know what the timetable is but it’s at least several weeks,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

Quinn is the second centerfielder to go down in a week. Odubel Herrera went on the IL with a mild hamstring strain last week. He could be ready to return sometime next week, according to Kapler. Also in the last week, the Phils lost shortstops Scott Kingery and Jean Segura to hamstring injuries. Segura is expected back in the lineup Saturday or Sunday.

With Quinn and Herrera out, Aaron Altherr got the start in center field Thursday night. Kapler said it was possible that Andrew McCutchen could get some time in center in the next few days. That would allow seldom-used Nick Williams a chance to get a start in left field. It’s also possible that Cozens could help fill the breach in center. Williams played some center field two years ago, but Kapler does not seem inclined to use him there.

“I don’t want to say it’s off the table but it’s not at the front of my mind right now,” Kapler said. “I’d prefer to ease him back in in left field if we’re going to go that route.”

Quinn, three weeks shy of his 26th birthday, has been plagued by a long list of injuries since being selected by the Phillies in the second round of the 2011 draft.

He has missed significant time with a torn quadriceps, a torn Achilles tendon, a strained elbow ligament, a torn ligament in his middle finger, a concussion and a broken toe. He missed the start of this season while recovering from an oblique strain suffered in spring training.

“Same ol’, same ol’,” Quinn said Thursday. “I’ve never had [a groin] issue before. Put it on my list.”

Quinn, a 5-foot-9 inch package of lean muscle, has done about everything he can to avoid injuries. He spent the winter in Clearwater two years ago in a program dedicated to stretching. He’s had his diet analyzed.

Another injury, suffered running out a bunt, has left him very frustrated and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever be able to exhibit the durability needed to be an everyday player.

“Roman is not trying to get hurt,” Kapler said. “To his defense, he has done everything in his power to stay on the field and his body has just not cooperated. I feel terrible for him. He is an uber-talented individual. He’s got special talent. He’s as athletic as anyone on the field. He’s as fast as anyone on the field. He’s got speed, power, athleticism, quickness. We’re doing everything in our power to keep him healthy. I feel personally responsible for digging in and not leaving any stone unturned for helping him stay on the field.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

At The Yard Podcast: Bad blood with Mets; prospect to keep eye on; early look at NL East

USA Today Images

At The Yard Podcast: Bad blood with Mets; prospect to keep eye on; early look at NL East

On this edition of At The Yard, Corey Seidman and Jim Salisbury discuss a renewed rivalry between the Phillies and the Mets. Jim provides an injury update on Roman Quinn.

Why you should keep an eye on relief pitching prospect Kyle Dohy.

Also, the NL East promises to be this competitive all season.

0:30 - Hectic week for the Phillies. Jake Arrieta's comments were startling.
5:30 - Injury update on Quinn.
11:00 - Is this a new Vince Velasquez or just a hot streak?
13:30 - Keep an eye on Dohy.
16:30 - NL East looks virtually even so far.
21:00 - Did Aaron Nola turn the corner in his start in Colorado?

Subscribe and rate At The Yard:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19