March 30, 2023
Alec Bohm reported to Clearwater over a month ago, way before that even, on a mission to hit with more patience and for more power.
He put on muscle, tried to prolong at-bats and bait pitchers into throwing more mistakes, and worked through the spring more confident than ever, appearing to be on the verge of a breakout.
On Opening Day down in Arlington, he looked well on his way.
After Rangers starter Jacob deGrom tore right through five of the Phillies' first six batters – Nick Castellanos worked his way on with a one-out double to right in the second – Bohm stepped up to the plate and took the first two pitches outside the zone for a 2-0 count.
On deGrom's third pitch, a 99 mph fastball up high, Bohm got a hold of it, driving it 385 ft the opposite way to give the Phillies an early 2-0 lead.
There was that extra muscle at work, and he was far from done.
FIRST BOHM RUN OF THE SEASON#RingTheBell pic.twitter.com/9ZlWPjt179— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) March 30, 2023
In the fourth, after seeing three pitches from deGrom again, he drove the third to right for a one-out double of his own, later scoring on a Brandon Marsh two-bagger to put the Phillies up 5-0 and sitting pretty.
You know...just up until they weren't.
Nine runs surrendered by Aaron Nola and the bullpen in the next frame dug too deep of a hole for the Phillies in Thursday's 11-7 loss, but Bohm was the clear bright spot in the lineup.
In the fifth, with two outs but the Phillies still in striking distance with two on, Bohm was in the hole 0-2, yet fouled his way into a seven-pitch at-bat against Rangers reliever Brock Burke that he turned into an RBI single up the middle. He cut the lead down to three and left himself a triple away from the cycle – on a day when the Phillies came up with three of them.
He wouldn't get it, striking out swinging on his final at-bat in the eighth, when any hope of a comeback was already stalling out.
But still, 3-for-4 with a homer, a double, and three runs batted in to begin the year? Not bad at all, especially down in the seventh spot of the lineup.
"He started off the spring really good, and then went through, I think, some fatigue towards the middle and towards the end," manager Rob Thomson said. "But it looks like he's fresh now, swinging the bat good."
And with Harper still sidelined for a while and Rhys Hoskins out for the season, the Phillies will take any boost at the plate wherever they can find it.
After a brutal start to last season, Bohm turned things around quickly and put up a very solid .280 batting average with 13 home runs, 72 RBI and a .713 OPS during the Phillies' push to the postseason.
But the belief, amongst the club and himself, was that there was more to the 26-year-old third baseman, and he spent the offseason preparing to hit that extra gear.
Through 20 spring games, he hit only .232 but slashed an .841 OPS with four homers and four doubles, and now – granted in just game 1 of 162 – he looks off to the races.
Alec Bohm is still alright, and depending on how this season goes, may end up better than ever.
Thursday in Arlington, despite an opening loss, was a great start.
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