More Sports:

June 15, 2016

Phillies Notes: Franco doesn't start, but pinch-hits; Velasquez progressing

UPDATE [10:04 p.m.] -- Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, who was out of the lineup for the third game in a row, pinch hit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night. He struck out swinging.


Maikel Franco was out of the lineup for the third straight game and scheduled to get examined by a team doctor on Wednesday as the Phillies returned to Citizens Bank Park from a five-game road trip.

Franco suffered a right knee sprain during the fourth inning of Sunday’s game in Washington, but remained in the game and hit a go-ahead home run against former teammate Jonathan Papelbon five innings later. But once he arrived in Toronto and woke up the next morning, Franco’s knee stiffened up.

Although Franco has been held out of the lineup for three consecutive games, the severity of the injury doesn’t seem to suggest a possible trip to the disabled list is upcoming.

“I don’t think so, just according to the way he talks,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “He had a little bit of swelling. We’re just going to make sure [with a doctor examination].”

The 23-year-old Franco is hitting .250 with a .738 OPS and a team-high 11 home runs in 60 games this season. Franco has been mostly underwhelming in his first full big league season but had come on offensively in then last three weeks: he’s hitting .279 with an .804 OPS and four home runs in 19 games since May 22.

He had started 60 of the Phillies 63 games this season prior suffering his current knee injury. Franco said it currently bothers him in a squatting (fielding) stance.

“Just feeling a little bit of pain,” said Franco, who had the knee wrapped while talking to reporters before batting practice. “But yesterday I felt a lot better, and today, too. So we’ll see what’s going to happen.”

  Vince Velasquez began playing catch on Tuesday in Toronto after taking five days off from throwing. Velasquez, placed on the DL last week with a right biceps strain, could throw a bullpen in the coming days.

But he isn’t expected to return to the rotation when his 15-day DL stint expires (June 24).

“I don’t think so,” Mackanin said. “I haven’t talked to [general manager Matt Klentak] about it, but I’m sure there’s no need to rush him. We need to make sure about him. I’d like to get another look at [ZachEflin, also. There’s no need to rush him, like you said. We’re going to monitor his inning totals anyway so it’s not the worst-case scenario.”

 • Tyler Goeddel was out of the starting lineup for the fifth straight game. Goeddel, who hit .288 with a .794 OPS in 22 games (all starts) in May, is 4-for-21 in his last nine games.

But Mackanin still labeled the 23-year-old Rule 5 pick as the “priority” player among his current corner outfield jumble that also includes Cody Asche, Jimmy Paredes, and Peter Bourjos.

“I’m going to keep playing him, but I’ve got to play Asche; I’d like to see Paredes,” Mackanin explained. “I took [Odubel] Herrera out of the game yesterday [in a blowout] just to get Paredes a couple of at-bats and he got two hits. We brought Paredes here to boost the offense a little bit. … It’s going to be a juggling act from here on out. Goeddel’s probably the priority, just to keep him playing as much as possible.

  • Dalier Hinojosa (remember him?) is scheduled to throw a 30-pitch, live batting practice session on Friday. Hinojosa landed on the DL on April 30 after taking a comebacker off his pitching hand a day earlier. He could return to the Phillies bullpen before the end of the month.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21