Shortly after 10:30 Sunday morning, outfielder Brandon Marsh walked into the Phillies clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park. He was on crutches, which was new from the night before after he crashed into the center field fence trying to track down a long drive by Kansas City’s Samad Taylor.
Sure enough, about an hour later manager Rob Thomson announced that Marsh had been placed on the injured list with a bruised left knee. Weston Wilson has been called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take his place on the roster.
“Probably two to three weeks,” Thomson said when asked how long he expected Marsh to be out. “Obviously, it’s a loss. He’s one of our better hitters. But the other guys have got to pick it up. And if the other guys hit like they’re supposed to hit, we shouldn’t miss a beat.”
Marsh was batting .284 with 8 homers, 44 RBI and a .832 OPS in 101 games this season.
In Sunday’s 8-4 win over the Royals in front of a sellout crowd of 43,112 at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies didn’t miss a beat. Nick Castellanos homered. Kyle Schwarber had three hits, including a homer. Bryson Stott homered. Bryce Harper had a double and a single and just missed a homer.
“It’s encouraging. It really is,” said manager Rob Thomson.
Added Schwarber: “Marsh has been doing such a fantastic job. Having him on the IL is obviously not ideal. But that’s the beautiful thing is this game. It can be someone else for another couple days. Then it can be someone else for another week. We’ve got really talented players throughout the whole lineup. We want him back. Trust me. But we’ve got to do our job to make sure there’s not a hole there.”
Marsh had described himself as “very optimistic” that he’d miss only a game or two after x-rays taken Saturday night were negative. But after a battery of follow-up tests Sunday morning, it was determined that the injury was more severe than originally thought.
Rojas is hitting .326 since being called up from Double-A Reading on July 14 and has been impressive defensively. He had two hits Sunday and stayed in a rundown in the eighth inning long enough to allow the other two runners to advance to second and third which ended up leading to the Phillies scoring an important insurance run.
He showed his inexperience, too, when he was picked off first in the fourth.
“I’m always ready to help the team win,” Rojas said through translator Diego Ettedgui. “I’m going to give 100 percent every single time I’m out there. Honestly, I wish Marsh a speedy recovery. He brings a lot to the team. He’s like a brother to me. But in the meantime I’m going to take advantage of the moment and do my best.”
He attributed his early success to hard work and the team’s support system. “I have to give a lot of credit to my hitting coaches and my teammates who give me advice on how to face certain pitchers, because they have a lot more experience than me,” he said.
Wilson, a 28-year old righthanded hitter who was signed as a minor league free agent during the offseason, was hitting .260 for the IronPigs with 25 homers, 69 RBI and an .884 OPS. He also stole 23 bases.
“He’s playing great,” Thomson said. “Hits lefthanded pitching. Can play anywhere, so he gives us all kinds of flexibility. Runs pretty well. Defends pretty well. He’s a good player.”
He will be making his Major League debut when he gets into his first game. He was informed of his promotion Sunday morning and arrived at Citizens Bank Park in the first inning.
Further outfield reinforcements could be on the way. Cristian Pache is expected to begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday.
Marsh’s play was reminiscent of Aaron Rowand slamming into the center field fence, which was then unpadded, shortly after Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004. He suffered severe facial injuries and also was placed on the disabled list.
The play became an instant part of Phillies lore especially when Rowand explained his willingness to sacrifice his body by saying, “For who? For my teammates. For what? To win.” It was a clear contrast to Eagles running back Ricky Watters who, after short-arming a catchable pass over the middle, had explained not risking injury to make the play by asking rhetorically, “For who? For what?”
Marsh said he was well aware of Rowand’s spot in Phillies history. “The difference is, he made his catch. I didn’t make mine,” he said.