Phils yet to decide Hoskins' primary '17 position

With Altherr, Herrera soon to return, Phillies skipper will have tough lineup choices

Phils yet to decide Hoskins' primary '17 position

PHILADELPHIA -- Is there any question Rhys Hoskins will play nearly every day the remainder of the 2017 season? Eleven home runs in 64 at-bats will keep anyone in a Major League lineup.

But what happens when Phillies outfielders Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr return from the 10-day disabled list? Does Hoskins still play primarily in left field, or does he become the club's regular first baseman? Herrera had been one of the best players in baseball since the All-Star break (2.1 WAR, according to FanGraphs) before he strained his left hamstring Aug. 14 in San Diego. Altherr (.894 OPS) had been on pace to have the Phillies' best offensive season since Jayson Werth in 2010 (.921 OPS) before he strained his right hamstring on Aug. 4.

Herrera and Altherr could be activated as early as Friday, when rosters expand to 40 players.

"It's a concern, but at the same time, we have [33] games left," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "I've seen Altherr enough to know that he's made a good impression. And we know Herrera is going to be our center fielder. It's not of the utmost importance to see them play, but I'd like them to finish the season and get some playing time.

Bid now on game-used Hoskins items

"If it turns out that we end up playing Hoskins more in left field than first base, so be it. When we first talked about it, I said I don't really care about his defense at this point. I just want to see his bat."

First baseman Tommy Joseph entered Monday hitting .239 with 19 homers and 63 RBIs, but his .719 OPS ranked 25th out of 26 qualified first basemen.

"He's an asset to us," Mackanin said.

Joseph's three-run shot

But Mackanin said he will discuss the issue before Altherr and Herrera return.

"I'm going to have to look at it and basically see who I want to give the at-bats to," the Phillies' skipper said. "I want to see if [general manager] Matt [Klentak] wants me to give at-bats to somebody or another guy. At that point, we'll discuss it and we'll figure it out."

Mackanin said he is not certain which players will be promoted once rosters expand, but Triple-A shortstop J.P. Crawford, the club's No. 4 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, is certain to be one of them. Mackanin is also hoping for more pitching help and a third catcher with Andrew Knapp (broken right hand) is not close to a return.

"He's just starting to throw. He doesn't have full grip strength in his right hand," Mackanin said.

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