Asche Wins Third Base Battle
Ryne Sandberg did not exactly say it this afternoon following a 5-3 loss to the Pirates at McKechnie Field, but there is no other way to look at it. The Phillies announced this morning they had reassigned third baseman Maikel Franco, right-hander Sean O’Sullivan and outfielder Clete Thomas to Minor League camp.
The Phillies had billed Asche/Franco as a competition to be their third baseman.
Franco is gone, Asche remains.
“Uh, yeah,” Sandberg said, when asked about Asche as the Opening Day third baseman. “Well, I think it’s a combination of two things. Franco goes and gets seasoning and gets at-bats and works on things, probably more on the offensive side, shortening up his swing and getting some better line drive-type of contact. Now Cody plays in these games and gets ready for the start of the season and then we go from there.”
While the Phillies touted this as a true competition, the reality is Franco would have had to completely outplay Asche to have any shot at the job. Asche impressed the Phillies in 50 games late last season, while Franco has not played above Double-A.
Franco hit .184 (7-for-38) with two RBIs, two walks and six strikeouts in 16 games. After starting the spring 0-for-13, Asche has hit .250 (7-for-28) with two doubles, three home runs and six RBIs. He had started to come around earlier this spring, but got hit in the hand with a pitch, which set him back.
“I had kind of a tough go at it in the first two weeks and I was started getting comfortable and then got hit in the hand,” Asche said. “I had to sit for two days and you have to start over when you should be at a point of progression. I had to work through that for a little bit and I have been pretty happy with my last five to seven games with the at-bats I have had.”
Asked about being in the Opening Day lineup, Asche said, “Until my name is on the lineup card Day 1, it’s anybody’s job still. I can’t take anything for granted, whoever is down or whoever is here.”