Phillies Notes: A confidence boost for Asche

Posted: August 18, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO - Cody Asche arrived Friday afternoon at AT&T Park, saw his name in Ryne Sandberg's lineup, and viewed it as a sign of good faith. The Giants started Madison Bumgarner, a difficult lefthander. His presence three weeks earlier forced Asche to the bench in a game at Citizens Bank Park.

"To be a regular guy," Sandberg said Friday, "to get a chance to be a regular player, you face lefthanded pitching."

It was a breath of fresh air, an example of the manager's prioritizing the future over the boring now. Asche gained confidence from it. He crushed a game-tying homer against Jeremy Affeldt, a lefthanded reliever, and ignited a 10th-inning rally with a double. The Phillies won, 5-3.

But, when Asche started again Saturday, he went hitless with a walk and bounced into a double play. He described his season as a series of "ups and downs." His playing time could diminish in September, when the Phillies are expected to promote third-base prospect Maikel Franco for an audition. Constructing a lineup that month, Sandberg admitted, will be challenging.

The 24-year-old Asche has spent a little more than a year in the majors. His future could entail learning more positions such as left field, first base, and second base to increase his versatility. Or the Phillies could install Franco at first, a position at which he moonlights in the minors, and stick with Asche at third.

Asche, for the moment, does not dwell on such matters.

"Coming in and seeing my name in the lineup definitely gave me confidence," he said. "Ryno saw something in me that made him want me in the lineup. I was confident going in just by the mere fact of being in the lineup."

Crawford back

J.P. Crawford, the Phillies' top prospect, played Saturday for single-A Clearwater after missing four days with a sprained left ankle. The injury was not considered serious, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.

Crawford, 19, will be reevaluated daily.

Extra bases

Jesse Biddle was removed from his first start at double-A Reading in more than a month with an apparent injury. The lefthander walked four batters, including opposing pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka with the bases loaded, and hit another in 32/3 innings. He allowed two runs. . . . Centerfielder Ben Revere tied a career high Saturday with four hits, the fifth time he has done it in 2014. . . . The Phillies acquired single-A second baseman Jesmuel Valentin as the first player to be named in the Roberto Hernandez trade with the Dodgers.

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