The Phillies entered the season with an unexpected question mark at first base. Rhys Hoskins went down with what’s likely to be a season-ending ACL tear during the final week of Spring Training. That pushed Darick Hall to the top of the depth chart, at least against right-handed pitching.
Hall started five of Philadelphia’s first six games before suffering a thumb injury on Wednesday. The Phils announced this morning the left-handed hitter tore a ligament in his right thumb and will require surgery. Matt Gelb of the Athletic writes that Hall could be out for around two months, which’ll leave the club dipping further down the depth chart.
The first crack will apparently fall to Kody Clemens. Acquired alongside Gregory Soto in a trade with the Tigers over the offseason, Clemens was recalled to make his team debut this morning. He got the nod at first base against Reds righty Hunter Greene. Manager Rob Thomson told reporters the Phils plan to use the lefty-swinging Clemens as their primary first baseman against right-handed pitching (link via Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer). Against southpaws, it seems likely the Phils will slide Alec Bohm over from third base while turning to Edmundo Sosa or Josh Harrison at the hot corner. Non-roster player Scott Kingery hit well in Spring Training to potentially put himself in the mix for a multi-positional bench role as well.
Clemens, 27 next month, has primarily been a second baseman. He’s regarded as more of a bat-first player, though most prospect evaluators have suggested he’s better suited for a utility role than playing every day. Clemens got into 57 big league games with Detroit last season, struggling to a .145/.197/.308 line in 127 trips to the plate. He’d been far better with their top affiliate in Toledo, where he had an above-average .274/.327/.535 slash with 13 home runs in 60 contests.
While Clemens has a solid offensive track record in the minors, it’s an obviously suboptimal situation for a team that expects to contend in what should be a difficult NL East. Gelb writes that Philadelphia explored potential trade possibilities in the immediate aftermath of Hoskins’ injury but couldn’t find an available external option they considered a significant enough upgrade over Hall. It’s possible they reexamine that market in the wake of Hall’s injury, although it’s not a typically active time for trades. If the Phils were to go outside the organization in the short term, it’d likely be for a player towards the back of the depth chart rather than an impact acquisition.