Over the last week or so, Maikel Franco has been taking ground balls and playing catch, with no pain in his injured left wrist. Wednesday brought a new test when Franco tried to hit 20 soft-toss pitches in the batting cage at Citi Field, but had pain in the wrist. It was the first time that Franco had attempted to take any swings since suffering the injury and the result left doubts as to whether or not he would be able to return before the end of the season.
Interim manager Pete Mackanin stressed that the Phillies won't rush to get him back in the lineup. "Unless he's 100-percent, we're just going to be careful," said the Phillies skipper, who put Franco's chances of returning at 50-50.
The Phillies have no reason to rush Franco to a return and it's possible that they may just shut him down for the rest of the season and continue with having Andres Blanco and Cesar Hernandez play at third base for the remaining 28 games of the season. Franco was hitting 13-48/.277/.340/.490 at the time of the injury and had at least put himself into the conversation for National League Rookie of the Year, but the injury ended those hopes. After hitting just .194 in 16 games in May after being recalled, Franco hit .352 in June and clubbed eight home runs to earn NL Rookie of the Month honors.
Blanco is hitting .313 (20-for-64) in games that he's started at third base since taking over for Franco. That includes a nine-game hitting streak, where Blanco hit .400 (14-for-35) during that stretch. The regular playing time has lifted Blanco's average from .280 on August 11 to it's current mark of .309 on the season. Blanco has also made just two errors in 220 innings at third base this season, for a fielding percentage of .968 at the hot corner.