Kevin Frandsen will never forget his three years in the Phillies organization.
“I was excited and lucky to be a Phillie,” he said. “I got an opportunity to make it back up to the big leagues and play really well for them.”
Frandsen will never forget the way it all ended, either, with his being released from the 40-man roster during the final days of spring training in March.
“Blindside,” he said. “I was like the ball boy on the sideline that got run over by someone.”
Frandsen, 31, turned down a chance to stay in the Phillies’ organization and go to Triple A because he believed he’d proven himself to be a major-league player. The move was risky as the veteran utility infielder forfeited the $900,000 the Phillies still owed him.
The risk proved to be worth it when Frandsen signed with the Washington Nationals shortly before opening day. He was back at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night for the start of a three-game series.
“I was pissed,” said Frandsen, looking back at the Phillies’ decision. “I earned my way to being on the bench, to being a vital part over there. That’s what I thought and that’s the feeling I have and I’m going to go with it.”
Frandsen made it clear that he believed the front office made the call to let him go. At the time, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he needed roster flexibility. Phillies management was looking to improve the team’s defense off the bench and looking for someone who could play shortstop as Freddy Galvis recovered from an infection that landed him on the disabled list. Frandsen plays second, third, first base and outfield.
“I don’t care what it was on timing and circumstance,” Frandsen said. “I earned my way. I earned my right to have that contract. I went about it the right way to be on that team over there. It didn’t happen.”
Frandsen, who led the majors with 14 pinch hits for the Phillies in 2013, has found happiness in Washington.
“We’re four games over .500 here, and I’m loving that,” he said. “I’m loving winning.”
Frandsen is contributing. He came into Friday night’s game 11 for 38 with two RBIs. He has appeared in 10 games and made seven starts in left field. He always told the Phillies he could play outfield, but never did with the club.
Had the Phillies kept Frandsen, he might have been a candidate for time at third base. Phillies third basemen hit just .160 in April.
“I think I could have helped (at third) last year,” Frandsen said. “I never got an opportunity.”
Frandsen remains a big supporter of Cody Asche, who started at third for the Phillies on Friday night.
“Cody is awesome,” Frandsen said. “He wants to be good. He is good. He prepares to be good. It’s just a matter of time.”
Frandsen could not hide a sheepish grin when asked whether he’d circled the trip to Philadelphia when he joined the Nationals before opening day. There’s no question he’d like to make a point during his visit and or in subsequent meetings with his old team this season.
“It was a great time in Phladelphia,” he said. “And now I’m grateful and excited to be a National.”