Nava may be hitting way into more playing time

Nava may be hitting way into more playing time

ST. LOUIS -- The Phillies are not expected to reverse course this week and suddenly promote one of their top outfield prospects from Triple-A.

They have said many times they want to play their prospects regularly once they are promoted, so while big league veterans Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders occupy spots on the Phillies' 25-man roster, the prospects are expected to remain with the IronPigs. But that time is coming -- next month, maybe? -- as Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium was the Phillies' fifth consecutive loss following a short-lived four-game winning streak.

"Losing [stinks]," Phillies outfielder Daniel Nava said. "No one wants to lose."

Nava, who made the team out of Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, is making a case for more playing time. He started for the first time since May 19 and went 2-for-5 with a home run. He worked eight-pitch at-bats in the first and second innings against Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright.

Nava is hitting .313 with three doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs and a .926 OPS in 83 plate appearances.

"Good chance I can get him in there more, which I'd like to do," Mackanin said. "He looks like one of our better hitters."

"That's not my decision," Nava said about playing more. "That's not my call."

The Phillies need help offensively, especially after they placed second baseman Cesar Hernandez on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left abdomen. His 1.3 WAR is best on the team, according to baseball-reference.com.

Kendrick moved from left field to second base Sunday. The Phillies started Nava in left, Odubel Herera in center and Michael Saunders in right. Aaron Altherr sat for the third time in nine games. He has a .912 OPS, which is 28th out of 172 qualified hitters in baseball, but Phillies manager Pete Mackanin started Saunders because he was 2-for-4 against Wainwright, and the skipper is trying to get Saunders going.

Saunders went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He is hitless in his last 15 at-bats, and he has just two hits in his last 33. He is hitting .203 with eight doubles, two triples, six home runs, 19 RBIs and a .609 OPS. He has a .250 on-base percentage, which is last out of 83 hitters in the National League. He is 80th in the NL in OPS.

Maikel Franco is 82nd with a .598 OPS.

"He can't get it going," Mackanin said about Saunders. "He has to start getting hits. It's as simple as that."

The Phillies need to try something. They are 10-31 since their 11-9 start.

"You don't play the game to lose," Nava said. "But what you've got to take away at the end of the day, it's not the wins and losses, it's how the wins and losses happened. Are guys still grinding out at-bats? Are guys still going out there and being competitive? If you start to see less of that, then you've got a problem."

So is he seeing that energy and consistency?

"Consistently?" Nava said. "When we hit that stretch we definitely struggled with that. We started off hot. We hit that long stretch when we were struggling. It's going to get any person down. We're humans. But I think guys are trying to get that intentional focus, whether it's [Andres Blanco] on the bench or [Freddy Galvis] being vocal about guys, 'Let's keep going, let's keep grinding.' It [stinks] not winning, but you've got to keep going. You have to."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.