Phillies: Cesar Hernandez begins rehab stint in Clearwater

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 30: Cesar Hernandez
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 30: Cesar Hernandez /

The Phillies best hitter is on the mend down in Florida

Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez begins a rehab assignment with the Clearwater Threshers, the clubs’ High-A affiliate.

Clearwater begins a three-game home series against Bradenton on Wednesday before a road stint. If Hernandez feels strong following that series he could move to Reading to continue his rehab and not take playing time away from Scott Kingery in Lehigh Valley.

Hernandez has missed a month of playing time after suffering a strained oblique, and his presence at the top of the lineup is heavily missed. Andres Blanco and Ty Kelly aren’t half the hitter or defender Hernandez is when fully healthy.

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Veteran Howie Kendrick was getting into a groove at second before injuring his hamstring, sending him to the disabled list for the second time this year.

The 27-year-old had a fantastic start to the season, hitting .323 in the months of March and April. His later performances weren’t as strong, with his batting average as a leadoff hitter dropping to .226 in recent weeks.

With top prospect Kingery inching closer to the major leagues the Phillies will need to make a decision with Hernandez, who is extremely versatile in the field. Playing second, short, third, and center in his major league career, Hernandez could be the long-term answer at the hot corner should Maikel Franco falter.

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Corey Seidman of CSN Philly said on 97.5 this weekend that Hernandez could become trade bait during the offseason if he’s not fully healthy and produces in time for the trade deadline.

If the club fully believes in Kingery at second and that a third baseman can be added in free agency down the road, it certainly makes sense to trade a healthy Hernandez despite his quality glove and bat.