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Phillies expect Rhys Hoskins to miss the season; Darick Hall to be primary first baseman

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins, who was diagnosed with a left ACL tear on Thursday, will likely miss the rest of the season, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski announced on Friday.

Dombrowksi said Hoskins will get a second opinion soon but emphasized that he would be “shocked” if the first baseman doesn’t get surgery. The Phillies say the recommended surgery is an ACL reconstruction.

Hoskins injured his left knee in a Grapefruit League game against the Tigers on Thursday. He took an awkward step while trying to field a ground ball and fell to the ground. An MRI later revealed an ACL tear.

Dombrowski said the Phillies still don’t know which surgeon will perform the ACL reconstruction, or when the surgery will take place. He said the estimated timeline for Hoskins’ recovery is seven months. He isn’t sure whether the first baseman will be able to contribute in the postseason (if the Phillies make it this year), but said he’s certain Hoskins will “work towards trying to do that.”

“It’s very unfortunate for him, for us, but we really feel for him,” Dombrowski said of Hoskins. “He’s the ultimate gamer. Given everything he’s possibly got, so we feel terrible for him. But it’s a situation we also have to react to ourselves.”

Dombrowski said Darick Hall will get the majority of the playing time at first base. Hall, 27, made his big league debut with the Phillies last season, when he filled in for Bryce Harper after Harper fractured his left thumb in late June. Hall hit .250/.282/.522 over 42 regular-season games in Harper’s absence.

The left-handed slugger spent his offseason working with hitting coach Kevin Long, and said he’s been seeing the ball as well as ever. The results of that work have paid off this spring. Hall is hitting .319/.385/.681 with a 1.066 OPS over 16 Grapefruit League games with five home runs.

Dombrowski said that since last season, the Phillies have viewed Hall, who has 126 career home runs in six minor league seasons, as a big league player. It was all about finding the right fit, and with Hoskins at first base, and other players rotating through the DH spot, it was hard to find a place for Hall. But Hoskins’ injury changes that.

“He’s just become a better player,” Dombrowski said. “He’s always had power, that speaks for itself, but he’s continued to work hard, he’s continued to close his holes at the plate. When he came up to the big league level, he did very well for us. And to show what type of guy — all winter long he went to Arizona and was working with Kevin Long all winter.

“Kevin kept telling me, ‘Dave, he’s getting better and better all of the time. Just watch — he’s closing his holes. He looks really good.’ So, he’s done that for himself. He’s really a good, solid first baseman. He’s a big guy, but he catches the ball. He’s got a good arm — as you know he used to be a pitcher in college. So, he’s really done a lot for himself. He’s also a well-respected person in our organization. And in the clubhouse.”

Hall, a left-handed hitter, has struggled against lefties in his career. In his 42 big league games last season, he hit .266 against righties (in 124 at-bats) and .083 against lefties (in 12 at-bats). Dombrowski said the Phillies haven’t decided whether Hall will platoon with another right-handed hitter, like third baseman Alec Bohm, for example, who has experience playing first base.

“We have not made that decision yet,” Dombrowski said. “I know he’ll get the majority of playing time, but of course the majority of playing time we’ll face righties. But I don’t know what we’re going to do in that regard. We haven’t discussed that part of it yet.”

Regardless of how the they fill Hoskins’ absence on the field, Dombrowski emphasized that it will be difficult for them to replace the impact he’s had on the Phillies’ culture.

“He’s a stalwart,” Dombrowski said. “He’s the guy that’s like the backbone of the organization. I said this during the postseason, but in many ways he epitomizes what we’re all about as an organization, as a team, as a city. He’s a guy who gives you everything he has every single day. He works his tail off. He’s very consistent on the field. He’s basically — you can round it to 30 home runs, .250, 30 home runs, 80-100 RBIs. He gets on base. He walks. He’s respected in the clubhouse.

“He’s a player rep, he’s a pillar in the community, he’s involved in charity with his wife, Jayme. And yet, and this is not negative, but he’s not the perfect player. Like we said during the postseason, he’ll strike out, at times he’s a little streaky, he’s not the Gold Glove defensive first baseman. But he’s what we’re all about. He’s grit, he’s determined, he’s a winner, he’s a championship-type player. He makes the most out of his ability. He’s just, he and his wife, they’re just wonderful people. They’re the backbone of what makes a club.”

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