Revolving door continues in Phillies’ middle infield

Bryson Stott
Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryson Stott is doused by teammates after hitting a walkoff three-run home run during the ninth inning of a baseball game off Los Angeles Angels’ Jimmy Herget, Sunday, June 5, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Despite the promotion of Rob Thomson breathing a new breath of life into the team, the Philadelphia Phillies have found themselves in a difficult situation over the past few days. Entering the month of June, both Didi Gregorius and Jean Segura were placed on the Injured List, beginning what would become a carousel of middle infielder moves to fill the gaps as other injuries arose.

Segura was placed on the Injured List on May 31st after breaking his finger while bunting in the bottom of the seventh inning. (Any kids at home, this is why you place your top hand behind the barrel on a bunt). Segura will require 10-12 weeks to recover from his injury, placing his return likely in mid-to-late August.

Young Guns Fill the Gaps

Segura’s injury placed the Phillies in a difficult position, as they entered June with only five active infielders on the 40-man roster: Rhys Hoskins, Alec Bohm, Johan Camargo, Nick Maton, and Bryson Stott. Hoskins and Bohm obviously are holding down the fort in the corners, leaving Camargo, Maton, and Stott to manage second base and shortstop.

So a six-year veteran resigned to a bench role and two prospects who have struggled in the big leagues were left to manage the middle infield. On Wednesday, Joe Girardi penned his final lineup card in Phillies pinstripes, playing Camargo at third, Stott at shortstop, and Maton at second while using Bohm as the designated hitter.

Maton, in his first appearance with the Phillies this season, went 2-for-4 on the game with three RBI. Maton’s 2022 debut was highlighted by a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to aid the Phillies’ comeback in a while 6-5 victory over Gabe Kapler’s San Francisco Giants. Stott, meanwhile, also went 2-for-4, scoring two runs on the night.

Following a day off for the Phillies on Thursday, Maton and Stott started at second and short, respectively, in Rob Thomson’s first lineup card as interim manager as the Phillies opened their home series against the Los Angeles Angels. Thomson, demonstrating his commitment to developing the young Phillies talent, started Stott, Maton, and center fielder Mickey Moniak in his first game as manager.

And it worked.

While there wasn’t a firework show scheduled on Friday night, the Phillies provided all of the pyrotechnics in the world in a 10-0 victory over the Angels. Stott and Maton played a big part in the victory, scoring three runs on the night while combining to go 3-for-6.

Injury Bug plagues the Phillies

Unfortunately, Nick Maton flexed a little too hard against the Angels, making a diving play against Mike Trout, injuring his shoulder in the process. The injury, originally thought to be day-to-day, resulted in Maton’s placement onto the Injured List on Sunday.

Gregorius, who had been on the IL since May 4th, was activated in the corresponding move. Gregorius, who was out due to a knee injury, returned to Philadelphia at the perfect time as the Phillies’ active middle infielders almost dropped to two.

Following Gregorius passing the IL baton to Maton, Thomson’s plans shifted slightly. Stott started the remaining two games of the Angels series at short while Camargo started at second. Gregorius, the prospect once given the impossible job of replacing Derek Jeter in the Bronx, sat on the bench for his first two games back. Position-wise, it makes sense as Camargo has been a utility man for a majority of his career while Gregorius and Stott are primarily shortstops.

Camargo and Stott certainly earned their keep over the two games as well. Camargo went 3-for-8 with four RBI over the two victories. Stott, meanwhile, has contributed big time despite going 1-for-7 across the two games. On Saturday, Stott went 0-for-2, scoring two runs on two walks. On Sunday, well, no one will care if you go 1-for-5 if that one hit is a walk-off home run.

Stott, close friend and roommate to Bryce Harper, is slowly demonstrating why he was the Phillies’ No. 1 prospect.

Gregorius did enter the game on Sunday, replacing Camargo after Camargo injured his right knee in the eighth inning. That’s right, another injury to a middle infielder.

Camargo was officially placed on the 10-Day IL on Tuesday while the Phillies used their open slot on the 40-man roster to bring back an old friend: Scott Kingery. Okay, so maybe like the old friend that you can’t rely on to help with much, but you’re still happy to see them, right?

Kingery, who had only hit for a .185 batting average and .593 OPS at Lehigh this season, has returned to the Phillies. Kingery joined the team just in time to ride the bench in their series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday night, a spot he will likely remain in for the duration of his time with the Phillies. Stott, meanwhile, will move to second base for the foreseeable future while Gregorius returns to his home at shortstop.

While the Phillies’ recent success is enough to make any Phillies fan hopeful, they cannot handle any additional injuries in the infield. The Phillies simply do not have anyone ready in the farm to call up. Some have speculated Garrett Stubbs makes some starts at second base if needed, but we can all agree that is a “break glass in case of emergency” scenario.

On the flip side, as players return from injury, there are also some playing times issues that will need to be addressed. Bryson Stott needs regular at-bats. Nick Maton showed promise in his two games before getting hurt. Jean Segura and Didi Gregorius are both veterans that will deserve roster spots when they return.

Regardless, the Phillies will need to tread carefully until their middle infield situation becomes a bit more consistent.

AP Photo/Derik Hamilton