Phillies Notes: Asche on bench after scoring 4 runs in opener

Posted: April 03, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas - More than a decade passed after Scott Rolen's departure from the Phillies before they bred their next homegrown third baseman, and that made Cody Asche's opening day a significant one before he even stepped to the plate Monday at Globe Life Park.

Rolen, the former franchise cornerstone, started six straight opening days from 1997 to 2002. Next came David Bell; then Abraham Nunez; Wes Helms; Pedro Feliz; Placido Polanco; and, finally, Michael Young.

Asche, 23, joked during the spring that he would not assume he was the starter - even though no competition remained - until he saw his name on the lineup card in Texas. It was memorable. Asche reached base four times Monday and scored four runs. He was in the middle of every big Phillies inning.

But Asche did not start Tuesday against a lefthander, one indication that the veteran of 51 major-league games remains an unknown commodity.

"He's working at his game," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's a young player. He's working at all phases of his game every day. He'll continue that throughout the whole season to see what the ceiling is."

Until Asche, no Phillies player since Nap Lajoie in 1900 had scored four runs on opening day. The list of Phillies third basemen with four-run games in the last 48 years is Asche, Rolen, and a guy named Mike Schmidt.

"I would compare it a little bit to that first day in the big leagues," Asche said. "This is a new experience I have never had before. I didn't really know what to expect. A lot of jitters and excitement, which is always good."

Sandberg plans to ease Asche into regular work against lefties. He is viewed by some as a steward at the position for the organization's top prospect, 21-year-old Maikel Franco, who will begin 2014 at triple-A Lehigh Valley. Those plans, of course, could change.

There are worse problems to have.

The Phillies believe enough in Asche to at least tinker with the plan for Franco, who added a new position - first base - at the conclusion of 2013. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Franco will play "mostly" third base at triple A. "He'll play some first to make sure he can handle both positions," Amaro said.

Franco played just 69 games at double-A Reading, and the team thought about sending him there to start 2014, but that discussion did not linger.

"He handled himself really well," Amaro said. "He's going to be a big major-league player at some point. He got a little bit aggressive. But I don't want to take his aggressiveness from him. I'm looking forward to seeing how he does at a new level."

So is the challenge presented to Asche, who can quell any Franco talk with more days just half as good as Monday.

Hamels pitches

Cole Hamels pitched three innings in an intrasquad game between the Phillies' two single-A affiliates, Clearwater and Lakewood, in Florida. He allowed one run on two hits and two walks. He struck out three on 44 pitches.

Extra bases

Robbie Ross, a 24-year-old lefthander, will make his first major-league start Wednesday for Texas. He has 123 career relief appearances. . . . The Eagles and Cowboys have played 110 times but never had a game end with a 14-10 score like the Phillies-Rangers game did Monday, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

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