By Mary Cunningham
Worry not, Phillies Nation.
Maikel Franco made it to spring training camp in Clearwater yesterday.
Franco, 23, hit .280 with 22 doubles, one triple, 14 home runs, 50 RBIs and an .840 OPS in 335 plate appearances in his rookie season.
Franco needs to continue to play well for the Phillies’ rebuild to keep moving in the right direction.
“I put a lot of work in in the D.R. [Dominican Republic] and I’m prepared for everything,” Franco said. “I’m ready to go for everything.”
Franco said he worked on everything while he played winter ball this offseason.
“Mental, physical, worked on my body,” he said. “I tried to learn more about hitting. I worked on ground balls. Everything. That’s what I did in the D.R. and that’s what I’m continuing to do.”
But news also broke this offseason that Franco filed a grievance against the Phillies, claiming they manipulated his service time to delay his eligibility for free agency. Franco opened the season in Triple-A before being recalled May 15. Franco accrued 170 days of service time, which is two days short of a full season.
Those two days delayed his free agency from 2020 to 2021.
Franco’s agent, Ryan Royster, said in December the grievance will not be an issue moving forward.
Franco’s absence from camp until Tuesday raised eyebrows from some in the organization both in and out of uniform. The Phillies always have asked players to arrive in camp a day before the first full-squad workouts to take physicals, but Franco arrived Tuesday morning.
“Only thing I heard is this was the day I had to report and this is the day I’m here,” Franco said.
He broke his left hand in August, when current teammate Jeremy Hellickson hit him with a pitch while with Arizona. Franco said the hand feels fine.
“It’s exciting,” Franco said about camp. “A lot of players and new faces. I want to be a good teammate, put in a lot of work and hopefully everybody has fun and enjoys the game. I’m happy. I’m here. I want to put everything into getting better.”