Galvis’ bat play­ing catch-up to his glove

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - Rob Par­ent Colum­nist

PHILADEL­PHIA >> Freddy Galvis’ glove should go down as the sym­bolic stan­dard bearer of the 2016 Phillies. Maybe it can even be given a star­ring role in the club’s video re­view of the sea­son (do they still pro­duce those things?).

Galvis’ per­for­mances at short­stop this sea­son have been out­stand­ing, and seem to be get­ting bet­ter. He went into Tues­day night’s game against the Pitts­burgh Pi­rates

lead­ing the ma­jor leagues in field­ing per­cent­age at .989, with only six er­rors in 552 to­tal chances. He last made an er­ror July 22, and had gone 46 games since with­out a mis­cue.

It’s easy to over­look such an ac­com­plish­ment as what Galvis has pro­vided with his glove this sea­son ... es­pe­cially since his team never seems to score enough runs for great de­fense and semi­com­pe­tent pitch­ing to mat­ter. What more do you need to know about the Phillies than their lead­ing MVP can­di­date is a glove man?

But Galvis seem­ingly has taken it upon him­self to do some­thing about that ... score him­self.

Head­ing into Tues­day’s game, Galvis had hit three home runs in his pre­vi­ous four games, and nine in his last 30 games.

“Geez,” man­ager Pete Mack­anin said, “if he ends up lead­ing the team in home runs we’re go­ing to have to re-eval­u­ate our as­sess­ment of what kind of hit­ter he’s sup­posed to be.”

That would be an in­ter­est­ing topic for dis­cus­sion.

Of course, it’s pretty much been that all sea­son.

Nearly three months ago, Galvis em­broiled in a slump, Mack­anin openly ques­tioned the short­stop’s ap­proach at the plate. He thought Galvis was over­swing­ing, try­ing too hard to ... yes, hit home runs.

When those thoughts were re­layed to Galvis, he seemed to mildly take um­brage to it.

“Two weeks ago I was hit­ting .250 and I didn’t hear noth­ing about it,” Galvis said af­ter a 5-1 loss to Ari­zona on June 19, which was the Phillies’ 23rd loss in 29 games at the time. “Now I’m hit­ting .210 and ev­ery­body starts say­ing some­thing. It’s base­ball, man. Some­times you have it, some­times you don’t have it. Some­times you have it for 10 years and then you lose it for two or three years. The key is to keep work­ing.”

So Galvis worked, and via some ad­vice from hit­ting coach Steve Hen­der­son, started to stay back bet­ter on pitches. His power num­bers have picked up, as has his bat­ting av­er­age.

The rise has been slow but steady, Galvis go­ing from .210 in those dark days of late June to .236

through Mon­day. But his slug­ging per­cent­age has risen from .336 to .397 over that same time.

Galvis has led league short­stops in slug­ging per­cent­age since Aug. 9, at a .579 clip. He had nine home runs prior to Aug. 9, and he’s had nine since. Though Mack­anin had com­plained of Galvis’ per­ceived pen­chant for homers, he hasn’t been say­ing much about it lately, with Galvis lit­er­ally dou­bling his homer to­tal in some five weeks’ time.

At 18 home runs, Galvis is two shy of his pre­vi­ous to­tal of 20 in 322 games. En­ter­ing Tues­day’s game he was tied with Tommy Joseph for third in the team rank­ings, be­hind the strug­gling Maikel Franco (22) and Ryan Howard (21).

“We should have told him to hit home runs from Day 1,” Mack­anin said of Fear­some Freddy. “He might have 40 by now.”

Ei­ther way, Mack­anin con­tin­ues to wish to see Galvis be­come a more stream­lined kind of hit­ter, whether he’s pok­ing line drives to the gaps like the man­ager would pre­fer, or up­per-cut­ting balls over walls like Galvis has been do­ing lately.

That’s be­cause Pete Mack­anin wants Freddy Galvis to go nowhere but into his start­ing lineup every night, and that’s be­cause of that shin­ing stan­dard of the Phillies’ 2016 sea­son, the Galvis Glove.

“Freddy, he’s had a great sea­son as far as de­fense,” Mack­anin said. “He’s a win­ning player. He just needs to im­prove his plate dis­ci­pline . ... If you sur­round Freddy Galvis with a lot of good hit­ters, that’s a win­ning short­stop right there.”

Per­haps so. But that’s cer­tainly not go­ing to

hap­pen any­time soon.

While Mack­anin still has ques­tions about Galvis’ long-term vi­a­bil­ity, the guy at se­cond is win­ning him over.

Ce­sar Her­nan­dez has cut down on his field­ing mis­takes while main­taing a bat­ting av­er­age around the .290 mark dur­ing the se­cond half of the sea­son.

Mack­anin has taken no­tice of Her­nan­dez’s new­found con­sis­tency. Asked to list pos­i­tive devel­op­ments this sea­son, Mack­anin will quickly point to his se­cond base­man.

“One thing that comes to mind is Ce­sar Her­nan­dez, pretty much get­ting close to es­tab­lish­ing him­self as a lead­off guy,” Mack­anin said. “Draw­ing walks, mak­ing a pitcher throw pitches, on-base per­cent­age, hit­ting .290, mak­ing the plays at se­cond base...

“When you see that for a pro­longed pe­riod of time, it’s been pretty im­pres­sive.”

While the mid­dle in­field­ers have been bet­ter in the plate pro­duc­tion depart­ment of late, first base­man Tommy Joseph ... has not.

Joseph home­red Saturday, his first since Aug.

24. This from a guy who had blasted 17 of them in just over two months’ time lead­ing up to that. Joseph, who was pro­moted from Class AAA Le­high Val­ley for his first game May 13, is tied with Galvis at 18 homers, but his bat­ting av­er­age has slipped to .243 with a .770 OPS. He started Tues­day’s game on the bench in fa­vor of Howard.

“Tommy Joseph came in like balls of fire and was hit­ting home runs al­most daily, it seemed like,” Mack­anin said. “Now he’s kind of slowed down a bit. He’s go­ing through that ad­just­ment pe­riod.”

Joseph is ex­pected back in the lineup Wed­nes­day, but Mack­anin said Howard will be no lineup stranger over the last few weeks.

“Since this may be Howard’s last time as a Phillie, I’ll prob­a­bly lean to­wards giv­ing him a lit­tle more play­ing time than I nor­mally would have be­fore,” Mack­anin said. “I think that’d be nice to do that for him and he’s swing­ing OK.”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

Phillies’ short­stop Freddy Galvis has been a wiz­ard with the glove — and some­times even with­out one in the field — while pick­ing up his power num­bers at the plate.

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