Sandberg won't hesitate using Hernandez at SS

Sandberg won't hesitate using Hernandez at SS

Lunch Break: Mike Trout's Philly homecoming

May 13, 2014, 7:00 pm
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Cesar Hernandez has never played shortstop in the big leagues but played eight games there at Double A this year. (AP)

The Phillies' bench has been a weakness all season, lacking power from either side and often proving incapable of filling in adequately for the left side of the infield.

Jimmy Rollins missed time early with the birth of his second daughter and recently with a sore groin. Cody Asche was spelled often in the second and third weeks of April. Their two primary replacements, Freddy Galvis and Jayson Nix, combined to go 8 for 81 (.098) with 30 strikeouts and one extra-base hit.

Both are now gone as the Phillies have, mercifully, opted for offense over defense from their infield reserves.

Galvis was sent down to Triple A to gain some confidence after his offensive woes were affecting his instincts in the field. Two games into his time with Lehigh Valley, Galvis broke his collarbone. He'll miss two months.

Nix was outrighted to Triple A and removed from the 40-man roster earlier this week. He still has not decided whether to accept the demotion to Triple A or elect free agency.

Replacing them on the Phils' bench are Reid Brignac and Cesar Hernandez, who was called up from Reading on Tuesday.

Hernandez was sent down to Double A on April 11 to play everyday at shortstop and third base. Once there, he did nothing but hit.

"With Cesar, reports are and the facts are he's been swinging the bat well since he got down there and I knew that was his plus," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said before Tuesday's series opener against the Angels.

"So he's an option to pinch-hit, he's a possible pinch-runner. And he showed a lot of improvement at third base and shortstop, with shortstop being his better of the two [positions] as we speak. So he'll get continued work at short and third, and I'll utilize him as necessary. But his bat has been a plus since he went down."

With Reading, Hernandez hit .340 with an .896 OPS in 26 games.

He also hit .289 with a .331 on-base percentage in 131 major-league plate appearances last year, so the Phillies have a good idea of what they have in Hernandez -- a singles hitter off the bench who can hit from both sides of the plate and run a little bit.

Hernandez is relatively new to the left side of the infield, but Sandberg said he would not hesitate to play him there.

"I don't anticipate getting Jimmy [Rollins] out of there, by no means in a double switch or any scenario like that," Sandberg said. "But reports are that [Hernandez] is fine for shortstop and third base."

He'll be fine for the bench, too. To be an improvement, all he'll need to do is hit .099.

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