SAN FRANCISCO -- It turns out the Phillies needed Ben Francisco sooner than they thought. Center fielder Shane Victorino bruised his left knee making a diving catch Wednesday in Arizona. It improved Thursday, but swelling remained to keep him out of the starting lineup for the first time since June 5. Enter Francisco, whom the Phillies acquired Wednesday with Cliff Lee as part of a six-player trade with the Indians. Francisco, who can play all three outfield positions, started in center field and hit sixth Thursday night against the Giants at AT&T Park.
"I jumped up a few games in the standings overnight," Francisco said. "I'm pretty excited to be in a pennant chase. This my first chance to play in October, so I'm looking forward to that." Francisco hit .250 with 10 homers and 33 RBIs in 308 at-bats with the Indians. He is the right-handed bat the Phillies had been seeking for their bench since before Spring Training. They had pursued players like Nomar Garciaparra, Gary Sheffield, Mark DeRosa and Scott Hairston in the last several months only to come up empty. Francisco doesn't have much experience as a pinch-hitter, although those opportunities are far fewer in the American League. He has just 19 pinch-hit plate appearances, hitting .176 (3-for-17) with one homer, three RBIs and two walks. Of course, when else will Francisco play? Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has three All-Star outfielders in Raul Ibanez, Victorino and Jayson Werth, and Manuel likes to play his regulars as much as humanly possible. "He's going to get to play more than you probably think," Manuel said. One reason could be because the Phillies are trying to be careful with Ibanez, who spent much of June and July on the disabled list with a strained left groin.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.