Darnell Sweeney (left) gets the celebratory treatment from Ryan Howard after his second-inning homer.
By Todd Zolecki, MLB.com
Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera have become Phillies playing-time priorities at second base and center field, respectively.
Where does that leave Darnell Sweeney?
Sweeney, acquired this month from the Dodgers in the Chase Utley trade, is a second baseman and center fielder. He figured to be the odd man out, although he is making a case for more playing time. He ripped a two-run home run to left-center field in the second inning of Saturday night’s 4-3 victory over the Padres at Citizens Bank Park.
“There’s a good chance of that for right now,” said Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin, when asked about more playing time for Sweeney. “Cesar is our second baseman, but he’s in a funk right now and he needs to battle his way out of it. He’s trying. Maybe a day off might help him. I might get Sweeney in there tomorrow.”
Hernandez is hitting .088 (3-for-34) in his last eight games, so a break might serve him well. But Sweeney seems unconcerned about his playing time at the moment. After all, he was in Triple-A before the trade. Any playing time in the big leagues figures to be pretty good right now.
“I’m just excited to have this opportunity to be up here,” he said. “Whenever my name is called I’ll put my best foot forward, and whatever happens is going to happen. I’m just trying to play my game. I can’t do too much.”
Sweeney has homered twice in 13 at-bats with the Phillies. He has reached base safely eight times in 18 plate appearances.
“When you watch this guy take batting practice, the ball doesn’t really jump off his bat,” Mackanin said. “I think he works on mechanics more than anything from either side of the plate. But he sure hit that ball in Miami [on Aug. 22] a long way, and today he [went] opposite field. He’s got pop in his bat. We’ll get more looks at him.”
The more Sweeney plays at home the more Phillies fans will hear some little old school rap during his at-bats. He has Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” as his at-bat music.
“I like to stick with the old school,” Sweeney said with a smile. “It’s been working for me for the past couple of years.”
After another homer Saturday, he should stick with it.