By Sam Bush
There’s more of Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez than there was in 2017:
“I basically did the same thing I did last year with my personal trainer because we saw results,” Hernandez told MLB.com through an interpreter. “I can feel it in the cages. Feel stronger and I can see a difference. I like it.”
He was frequently mentioned in trade rumors as the team went through an offseason overhaul. With prospect Scott Kingery seemingly ready to begin his career at the big league level, the question became where Hernandez fit into the club’s long-term plans.
“I tried not to pay attention to that,” Hernandez said. “I know that there were teams interested in me, but all I care about is playing baseball, and I want to do it well. If I can continue to do it here, great. If I want to do it somewhere else, then I’ll do it somewhere else. Right now, I’m focused on doing it for this team here.”
In 2017, Hernandez set career highs in runs (85), doubles (26) and home runs (9) and tied his career high for batting average (.294). He was also on pace to top his previous bests in hits, RBIs and stolen bases before a left oblique injury landed him on the disabled list in June, ultimately costing him six weeks over the summer. Hernandez has been quietly solid in his five-year big league career, compiling a .284 average with a .357 on-base percentage while adding double-digit steals in each of his last three seasons.
Kingery, ranked as the No. 1 second-base prospect per MLB Pipeline, hit a combined .304 with 29 doubles, eight triples, 26 home runs, 65 RBIs, 29 stolen bases and an .889 OPS with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season. The 23-year-old is trying not to buy into the hype and isn’t worried about when he will break through with the big league team.
“I think that is something that happens to a lot of guys. You start worrying about when that will come or what you need to do to get there,” Kingery said. “For me, I know what I need to work on, and I’m not going to be disappointed if I start back in Triple-A. I’ll work on that stuff. I’ll just give myself the best shot to get moved up.”