James Pazos

Jean Segura set to return, a start for Nick Williams, and a Phillies-Rockies trade

Jean Segura set to return, a start for Nick Williams, and a Phillies-Rockies trade

The Phillies’ offense could get a boost as soon as Saturday when shortstop Jean Segura is expected to come off the injured list. Segura appeared to clear the final hurdle in his recovery from a hamstring injury when he participated in base-running drills Friday afternoon.

“As of this moment, the game plan is to have him available [Saturday], potentially even start at shortstop,” manager Gabe Kapler said after watching Segura run the bases.

Segura, the Phillies’ No. 2 hitter, was hitting .328 with a .384 on-base percentage and 13 runs scored in 16 games when he left the game on April 16.

Entering Friday night, the Phillies had lost six of the nine games they’d played without Segura and the offense had sputtered.

Getting the contact machine shortstop back will help.

“Jean can definitely provide a spark for us, but it’s not just on his shoulders and we shouldn’t assume that inserting him into the lineup is going to fix every woe that we’ve experienced over the course of the last two weeks; I don’t think that would be reasonable,” Kapler said. “But I will say that he was a spark at the top of our lineup when he was in there and I have no doubt that he can provide that spark again.”

Williams gets first start

Nick Williams was slated to make his first start of the season on Friday night. He was listed in left field, batting fifth for the Phillies.

Williams made the defensive play of the early season when he gunned down a runner at the plate to preserve a 1-1 tie in the top of the ninth inning Thursday night. The Phillies lost the game, 3-1, in the 10th.

Williams’ throw from left field registered 95.5 mph, according to Statcast. Neither starting pitcher threw a ball that hard all night.

“We were all still talking about it when we got to the ballpark today,” Kapler said.

Playing time has been scarce for Williams, who is primarily a rightfielder. Bryce Harper now plays that position and he’s not going to take many days off. Andrew McCutchen is set in left field and Odubel Herrera in center. With Herrera and Roman Quinn both on the IL with hamstring injuries, Kapler was able to get Williams a start in left field by moving McCutchen to center.

“Nick has handled this about as professionally as anyone could,” Kapler said. “He’s actually been a breath of fresh air in that regard. It’s hard to not have a start until near the end of April. It’s a huge mental challenge and I think he’s done a good job of tackling it.”

A trade

The Phils made a minor trade Friday, sending Triple A reliever James Pazos to Colorado for minor-league infielder Hunter Stovall. Pazos had been designated for assignment earlier in the week.

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Phillies call up shortstop Sean Rodriguez, who's known for his competitive fire

Phillies call up shortstop Sean Rodriguez, who's known for his competitive fire

NEW YORK — All signs point to Jean Segura returning to the Phillies on Saturday, but in the meantime, the Phils have another shortstop: Sean Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was called up from Triple A on Wednesday, two days before his 34th birthday. He will immediately get the start at shortstop for the Phillies, batting seventh on Wednesday night against Mets left-hander Jason Vargas.

Rodriguez's call-up was one of several roster moves the Phillies made ahead of their series finale in New York. Right-handed pitcher Enyel De Los Santos was also recalled from Triple A, while Mitch Walding and Drew Anderson were optioned back to Lehigh Valley. 

Additionally, left-handed reliever James Pazos was designated for assignment. Acquired in the Segura trade with Seattle, Pazos wasn't sharp in spring training and had a rough go with the IronPigs, allowing six runs and seven walks in 7⅓ innings.

The Phillies have had to utilize more of their 40-man roster than they would have liked these last two weeks. Scott Kingery was Segura's replacement, but then Kingery suffered a hamstring injury of his own. The next man up was Phil Gosselin, who had two singles in his Phillies debut last Friday and a three-run double Saturday but is 0 for 12 since. Gosselin also committed a throwing error in the first inning of Tuesday night's loss.

Enter Rodriguez, who last season in the majors played every position except pitcher and catcher. He's spent most of his career as a bench utilityman but had a lot of success in 2016 as a platoon player with the Pirates, hitting .270/.349/.510 with 18 homers and 56 RBI in just 342 plate appearances.

Even through his struggles the last two seasons, Rodriguez has more than held his own against left-handed pitching. Since 2016, he has a .384 OBP against lefties, which you'd think factored into the timing of this call-up. The Phillies face the lefty Vargas on Wednesday and another southpaw in Caleb Smith Thursday. 

Rodriguez, who's tight with Andrew McCutchen and thrilled to again share a clubhouse with him, had an opt-out in his contract if he didn't make the team out of spring training but decided to stay in the organization and accept the role at Triple A. 

"I'm in it to win," he said. "That's what I told (Gabe) Kapler and (Matt) Klentak. It was clear this offseason this team was trying to win."

Rodriguez had been hitting for power at Triple A, going 11 for 25 with four homers, a triple, two doubles and 12 RBI in his last six games before Tuesday night. Despite that and the Phillies' growing injured list, he tried his best to not sit by his phone and await the call.

"We can try to play GM but I learned a long time ago not to do that," he said. "You obviously see the injuries and all that but you don't buy into it, you just try to show up every day and do your job on a daily basis."

Rodriguez is perhaps best-known for his fire and competitiveness in the field, on the bases and in the dugout. He's the consummate good teammate, the kind of guy who's usually the first one out when benches begin to clear in a situation like the Phillies experienced Tuesday night when two fastballs were thrown above Rhys Hoskins' head.

He has no intentions of dialing that back as he gets reacclimated to the group of guys he spent spring training with.

"I think if you've identified pretty early on that's who you are as a player and competitor, it's hard not to just continue to be that guy," he said. "If you're not, then you're almost taking yourself and your competitive nature and putting it aside. Basically, you're putting it in the closet. You don't want to do that. 

"If that's who you are, that's who you are. You learn to somewhat not let the rage come out in a bad or negative way. That's what you try to harness and buffer up a bit. But definitely not turning it off."

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