TODAY: Hall and Pache will both begin rehab assignments at lower A-ball Clearwater this week, with The Athletic’s Matt Gelb tweeting that Hall will start action on Tuesday and Pache on Wednesday. Alvarado played catch today but didn’t throw his bullpen due to feeling “a little sore.”
MAY 26: After long-time first baseman Rhys Hoskins suffered a torn ACL during Spring Training, the Phillies were left entering the season with a hole at first base for the first time in years. That appeared to open the door for Darick Hall, who impressed in 41 games last year, to take the lion’s share of the starts at first base this season, but Hall suffered a torn ligament in his thumb just six games into the 2023 campaign that required surgery, and has been on the shelf ever since.
Since then, the Phillies have relied on a timeshare between Kody Clemens and Alec Bohm at first base to acceptable but uninspiring results. In 22 games with the Phillies this season, Clemens has slashed a solid .241/.302/.483 that’s good for a wRC+ of 109. That wRC+ figure improves to 127 against right-handed pitching, with Clemens posting a much stronger .255/.321/.529 slash line against righties so far, albeit in a small sample size of just 56 plate appearances. Bohm, meanwhile, has slashed .269/.324/.409 with a wRC+ of just 99 in 204 plate appearances this season, though in 60 plate appearances against lefties, that slash line improves to a healthy .268/.300/.518 figure that’s good for a wRC+ of 115.
While a platoon of Clemens and Bohm has held down the fort capably at the cold corner so far this season, as the club’s wRC+ of 98 at first base this season ranks just 20th in the majors. Jon Heyman of the New York Post suggests that recently-released Cubs first baseman Eric Hosmer could be a fit, though Hosmer has slashed an abysmal .234/.280/.330 in 100 plate appearances this season that’s 32% worse than league average in terms of wRC+. The Phillies have reportedly also considered using superstar Bryce Harper at first base as a way to open up the DH spot while protecting Harper from high-intensity throws in the outfield, though Harper has spent just a third of an inning at first base during his career to this point.
Fortunately for the Phillies, such drastic measures may not be needed at all, as MLB.com notes Hall could begin a rehab assignment as soon as next week, putting him on track to potentially return shortly after he’s eligible to do so on June 5. Hall, who slashed .250/.282/.522 with 18 extra base hits in just 41 games last season, could provide a significant boost to the club’s production at first base with a healthy return.
Hall is far from the only injured Phillies player who has received a positive injury update in recent days, as GM Dave Dombrowski has also expressed optimism that top prospect Andrew Painter and Rule 5 pick Noah Song will both pitch competitively this season. As noted by MLB.com, Dombrowski left open the possibility that Painter, who is currently throwing off a mound from 50-55 feet, could impact the big league club at some point this season. As for Song, he will of course have to be added to the active roster within 30 days of beginning a rehab assignment, and will shed Rule 5 restrictions after spending 90 days on the club’s active roster.
Meanwhile, both center fielder Cristian Pache and lefty reliever Jose Alvarado are targeting returns to big league action at some point next month, with rehab assignments expected for both players in the coming weeks, per MLB.com.
A long-time top prospect, Pache struggled badly with the bat during the first 126 games of his big league career, with a slash line of just .156/.205/.234 during that time. That brutal offensive production led the A’s to trade him to the Phillies just before the start of the 2023 campaign, where Pache got off to a hot start with a .360/.360/.600 slash line in 18 games before hitting the injured list with a torn meniscus at the end of April. An elite defender in center field, Pache figures to shore up an outfield defense that currently features Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos in the corners flanking center fielder Brandon Marsh upon his return.
Alvarado, meanwhile, was placed on the injured list early this month with elbow inflammation after his own hot start to the 2023 campaign where he pitched to a 0.63 ERA in 14 1/3 innings of work. The 28-year-old Alvarado, who signed an extension with the club during the spring, threw a bullpen session on Wednesday and figures to throw another tomorrow before progressing to facing live hitters on Tuesday. Once Alvarado returns, he figures to be an immediate factor in the club’s late inning mix alongside Seranthony Dominguez and Craig Kimbrel.