December 3, 2023

Didi Gregorius returns as Phillies begin series with Padres


Photo by Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Didi Gregorius is off the injured list and tin in the 37-41 Phillies’ lineup is the healthiest it’s been in nearly two months.

Those Phillies start a new series with the 49-34 San Diego Padres.

Gregorius missed more than seven weeks with an elbow injury. He was activated Friday.

Infielder Nick Maton was optioned to Triple A to make room on the active roster.

Gregorius landed on his elbow catching a ball behind second base on April 16 at home against the St. Louis Cardinals. The elbow continued to swell to the point that he had trouble extending his arm. He dealt with a setback during his rehab and was diagnosed with pseudogout, a form of arthritis. A treatment plan helped alleviate the pain.

The Phillies have played 78 games and Gregorius has been limited to 32. He’s hit .229/.266/.364 with four doubles, four homers, and 22 RBI in 128 plate appearances. 

He struggled defensively early in the season but improved some before the injury. His range is still iffy and it’s expected there will be a defensive drop-off at shortstop from Ronald Torreyes back to Gregorius. The Phillies are hoping his offensive impact will outweigh that difference in defense. In 2020, Gregorius was one of their best, most consistent, and clutch hitters, hitting .345 with runners in scoring position and leading the team with 40 RBI.

“I thought Didi’s defense improved a lot once we got by those first three weeks,” manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday. 

“I will use Torreyes. We’ll have to manage Didi when he comes back. It’s not like I’m going to run him out there seven days in a row. And I’m going to have to manage (Jean Segura’s) playing time too, coming off of a leg injury.”

The Phillies have not had all of Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, Gregorius, and Alec Bohm together in the lineup since May 9, a span of 43 games in which they went 19-24.

Even though the Padres lost a one-run game on Thursday, they’ll still enter Philadelphia as one of the hottest teams in the league.

The Padres fell 5-4 on the road against the Cincinnati Reds as closer Mark Melancon suffered a blown save.

But the Padres have won 11 of the last 13 thanks in large part to their balanced offense up and down the lineup.

On the mound, the Phillies will turn to right-hander Zack Wheeler (6-4, 2.20 ERA), who is 10-6 with a 2.49 ERA, 183 strikeouts, and a 1.05 WHIP in 27 starts (177 1/3 IP) since signing with the Phillies ahead of the 2020 season.

Padres right-hander Chris Paddack (4-5, 4.64 ERA) was pitching well, completing at least six innings in four of his last six starts when he was hit around for five runs on eight hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings last Friday in San Diego.

Here’s the starting lineups for Friday night’s game.

For the Phillies:

  1. Odubel Herrera CF
  2. Jean Segura 2B
  3. J.T. Realmuto C
  4. Bryce Harper RF
  5. Andrew McCutchen LF
  6. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  7. Didi Gregorius SS
  8. Alec Bohm 3B
  9. Zack Wheeler P

And for the Padres:

  1. Tommy Pham LF
  2. Jake Cronenworth 2B
  3. Manny Machado 3B
  4. Fernando Tatis SS
  5. Trent Grisham CF
  6. Eric Hosmer 1B
  7. Jurickson Profar RF
  8. Victor Caratini C
  9. Chris Paddack P

Here’s the essentials for Friday night:

  • When: 6:05 P.M. E.S.T.
  • Where: Citizens Bank Park
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • Radio: 94.1 WIP
  • Social media coverage: Philly Sports Reports’ Twitter & Instagram.

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