Updates on Bryce Harper’s timeline to 1B, Cristian Pache and more originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Phillies outfielder Cristian Pache has a screw loose.
Which is just one of the reasons, manager Rob Thomson said before Sunday’s series finale against the Padres, that the team’s outfield look has changed recently … and why even bigger decisions loom.
Pache played in the last game before the All-Star break in Miami without any issues. The next day, however, he called head athletic trainer Paul Buchheit and said his elbow was sore. An x-ray revealed that a screw from a 2016 surgery had begun to work itself loose.
He’ll undergo an operation Monday to remove the screw, but isn’t expected to miss the rest of the season.
“You can see it. It hasn’t come through the skin but there’s a definitive bump there. They’ve got to get it out,” the manager said. “They can’t put it back in. They’re going to take it out and then I’m sure the bone has to heal a little bit where the hole is. He doesn’t have much mobility. It’s painful right now.”
That news came against the backdrop of Bryce Harper’s apparently imminent move to first base – Thomson now expects that to happen sometime during the Brewers series that opens Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park – which is likely to set off a chain reaction.
For most of the season, Kyle Schwarber has started in left, Brandon Marsh in center and Nick Castellanos in right.
That alignment came about in part because Harper was limited to designated hitter coming off Tommy John surgery.
When he moves to first, though, Schwarber is expected to get the bulk of the starts at DH. That could move Marsh to left. If Castellanos remains in right, Thomas then has to figure out whether to emphasize offense in center field or whether rookie Johan Rojas, who is a superior defender but just made the jump from Double-A, should get an extended look.
“For me, defense is so important. Because it’s constant,” Thomson said. “And it’s usually pretty consistent. Whereas offense ebbs and flows so much. I see where you can take a guy like Rojas, if he keeps his head above water, and there’s not this huge upgrade in offense, of keeping him. Because you’re going to eliminate runs just with him being on the field.”
The manager had previously said Harper would make his debut at first against the Padres.
“I really was thinking about it,” he explained. “Then when we got into the weekend with the four games in 48 hours and the heat, I wanted to make sure I got people off their feet. But also in the games so they can get back in the swing of things after the All-Star break. So it just didn’t work out, trying to get Darick Hall and Drew Ellis and all those guys in the games.”
He also didn’t completely rule out Harper appearing in right field again before the end of the season. Asked if that was still on the table, he hedged. “On the edge of the table,” he said with a smile.