Cristian Pache closing in on return; Jose Alvarado update originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Cristian Pache is closing in on a return and it comes at a fortunate time for the Phillies, who just lost Brandon Marsh to a multi-week knee injury on Saturday when he crashed into the center field wall at Citizens Bank Park.
Pache will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday night with Single A Clearwater and is scheduled to play seven innings. Phillies manager Rob Thomson expects Pache to play three games with Clearwater before transitioning to Triple A Lehigh Valley for two. He could be back on the Phillies’ 26-man roster in a week.
The 24-year-old is returning from a surgical procedure that removed a loose screw that had been causing irritation in his elbow.
Pache last played for the Phillies in their final series before the All-Star break in Miami. It was a big weekend for him as he hit a game-winning home run in the ninth inning and an RBI double the next day. He’s hit .327/.365/.592 with seven doubles, two home runs an eight RBI in 53 plate appearances as a Phillie.
Pache missed just over six weeks earlier this season with a torn meniscus. When healthy, he had been serving as a platoon center fielder against most left-handed starting pitchers.
The Phillies called up Johan Rojas, another defensive-minded, right-handed center fielder, to replace Pache out of the All-Star break. Rojas has impressed with his range, instincts and throwing arm and has not yet looked overmatched against big-league pitching.
With Marsh out two-to-three weeks, Rojas would not be made redundant by Pache’s presence. Though both Pache and Rojas hit from the right side, the Phillies could start both against lefties and feel great about their outfield defense, while continuing to incorporate Jake Cave against right-handers.
That could mean Weston Wilson finds himself the odd man out, but a lot can happen in a week.
Jose Alvarado, the Phillies’ all-important late-inning lefty, was tentatively set to begin a rehab assignment Thursday but will instead throw another live batting practice session at Citizens Bank Park before making that next step.
Alvarado, on the injured list for the second time this season with left elbow inflammation, faced hitters on the field Monday. He showed up Tuesday with cramping in both hands.
“Nothing too concerning, we just want to make sure he’s OK,” Thomson said. “The first time he felt it was today. I don’t know if he was just dehydrated or what it is.”
Alvarado has a 1.38 ERA in 26 appearances but has been missed about half the season. He’s crucial to the Phillies not only for his ability to retire hitters from both sides but because his presence allows the Phillies to rely less on Craig Kimbrel and Gregory Soto. Kimbrel is on pace to exceed 70 appearances, something he did only in his first full season with the Braves. Soto is on pace to surpass his career-high by seven. The Phillies need them all healthy and as fresh as can be in October.