PHILADELPHIA – Rob Thomson spent three years with Didi Gregorius in New York and three in Philadelphia.
So the Phillies manager admitted it was a difficult conversation when the club told the veteran shortstop it was releasing him prior to Thursday night’s game against the Washington Nationals.
“We’ve had a long history going back to the Yankees, a lot of really good times, a lot of playoff games,” said Thomson, who served as Joe Girardi’s bench coach in New York and Philadelphia before being named interim manager this June. “I have a lot of respect for him. He’s been a really good player for a really long time. It was a difficult decision, but we think the right decision.”
Second baseman Jean Segura was activated off the 60-day injured list before the game and was inserted into the lineup for the first time since suffering a broken finger on May 31. Gregorius was released to make room.
With Segura at second base, rookie Bryson Stott will take over as the everyday shortstop. While Thomson has played his hands close to the vest about what would happen when Segura returned, it’s been clear for a while Stott would slide into the shortstop role – he had been hitting better and higher in the lineup and is at least as good a fielder as Gregorius with more upside.
“We saw (Stott) when Didi was (injured earlier in the season) play short and play very well,” said Thomson. “His at-bats the last six weeks have been outstanding, not just against right-handers but left-handers too, clutch situations. He’s gotten on base, had great at-bats. He’s really proven to be a big-league player.”
The Phillies traded for slick-fielding Edmundo Sosa earlier in the week, which gave them a glut of players who could play shortstop. They kept Yairo Munoz, who can play second and third, instead of Gregorius.
“At this point, with Seggy coming back Stotter is going to be the shortstop and with Sosa and Munoz we have a lot of versatility there,” said Thomson. “Didi was the odd man out. He’s not a bad player. He’s played very well at shortstop. He just didn’t hit the way he normally hits. We thought this was the best way to go.”
Gregorius signed a one-year contract for the shortened 2020 season and was one of the Phillies’ most dependable players. He played in all 60 games, hit 10 home runs and knocked in 40 while batting .284.
But after inking a two-year, $28-million contract prior to the 2021 season, he’s spent almost as much time on the injured list than in the lineup and his production has fallen off dramatically. He hit just .210 over 166 games the last two seasons and this year hit just a single home run.
Gregorius had just four hits in his last 43 at-bats.
“The offense just hasn’t clicked,” said Thomson. “I don’t know what it is. He just wasn’t hitting. It doesn’t mean he won’t hit in the future, but right now he’s not hitting.”
Gregorius is the third veteran the Phillies have released in the last week as outfielder Odubel Herrera and reliever Jeurys Familia were both designated for assignment on Tuesday.
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