Hoskins to see more playing time at first base

Hoskins to see more playing time at first base

PHILADELPHIA -- Expect one notable change to the Phillies lineup for the final 19 games of the season.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he plans to play Rhys Hoskins more frequently at first base, following outfielder Aaron Altherr's return to the lineup Tuesday night against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. Altherr, who had just three at-bats since Aug. 4 because of a strained right hamstring, joined Odubel Herrera and Nick Williams in what could be the Phillies' 2018 Opening Day outfield come March 29 against the Braves at SunTrust Park.

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"With Altherr back in the mix, it makes it more difficult for me to play him in the outfield," Mackanin said about Hoskins, who has started 23 of 32 games in left field.

Mackanin said he spoke to first baseman Tommy Joseph about the move. Joseph has started 120 games at first this season.

"He understands," Mackanin said. 

Hoskins entered Tuesday hitting .296 with 14 home runs, 32 RBIs and a 1.142 OPS. Joseph is hitting .238 with 21 homers, 66 RBIs and a .720 OPS.

Behind the plate

Mackanin also said he still plans to give catcher Jorge Alfaro the majority of playing time, despite Andrew Knapp being activated from the 10-day disabled list Tuesday. Knapp has not played since Aug. 3 because of a broken right hand.

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Alfaro is out of options next season, so at the very least, he is expected to be on the Opening Day roster. Because of that, the Phillies want to see as much of him as possible the rest of the way.

Alfaro is hitting .324 with two homers, seven RBIs and an .811 OPS in 73 plate appearances.

Starting rotation plans

The Phillies will use a six-man rotation the rest of the season. Right-hander Henderson Alvarez is expected to start Sunday against the A's.

Alvarez has not pitched in the big leagues since 2015, when he went 0-4 with a 6.45 ERA in four starts with the Marlins. He has had two shoulder surgeries since then. Following a workout for 15 teams earlier this season, he made seven starts with Long Island in independent ball before making three starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

"We have a lot of young pitchers," Mackanin said, explaining that a six-man rotation will reduce the workload for the team's young starters.

 Arano called up

The Phillies also promoted Triple-A right-hander Victor Arano and placed right-hander Zach Eflin on the 60-day disabled list with a shoulder injury. Arano, 22, is the organization's No. 27 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, but he suffered an elbow injury in Spring Training following an impressive 2016, where he flourished following a move from the rotation to the bullpen.

Arano posted a 4.19 ERA in 32 appearances this season with Double-A Reading. He struggled at times, striking out fewer batters and walking more in his return. But he is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, so the Phillies want to know if he is worth keeping on the 40-man roster.

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.