Crawford homers in 1st start since June

PHILADELPHIA — J.P. Crawford‘s home run in the fifth inning on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park might have surprised a few people.

Crawford had not homered since April 14, and Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said on Monday that it might be tough to find a place for Crawford to play the remainder of the season. The shortstop had dropped far enough on the depth chart that the Phillies optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley last month after he recovered from a broken left hand.


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PHILADELPHIA — J.P. Crawford‘s home run in the fifth inning on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park might have surprised a few people.

Crawford had not homered since April 14, and Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said on Monday that it might be tough to find a place for Crawford to play the remainder of the season. The shortstop had dropped far enough on the depth chart that the Phillies optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley last month after he recovered from a broken left hand.


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But now that the Phillies are unlikely to make the postseason, priorities may have changed.

Crawford, who started at shortstop for the first time since June 18, ripped a solo home run to right against Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg to cut Washington’s lead to 4-1.

“We’re always balancing both his development with the opportunity to win tonight’s baseball game,” Kapler said before the game. “And tonight, those things coincided. Tonight, we felt like he gives us the best chance to win the baseball game, and it is going to be a good opportunity for him to continue his development.”

Crawford was thought to be the team’s everyday shortstop in December, when the Phillies traded Freddy Galvis to the Padres, but Crawford struggled offensively and defensively. He hit just .194 with a .645 OPS in 112 plate appearances through June 19. He also committed seven errors at shortstop.

Scott Kingery assumed the everyday role at shortstop following Crawford’s hand injury. The Phillies acquired infielder Asdrubal Cabrera in July, making Crawford, the organization’s former No. 1 prospect, no longer a fit on the 25-man roster, even as a utility player.

Kapler, not surprisingly, sounded upbeat about Crawford’s future, which has probably grown a little murkier with the Phillies, given Kingery’s emergence as an option at shortstop and the imminent pursuit of Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado in the offseason.

“I think he has the capability to look over a pitch and make a quick decision whether to swing or not, mostly based on can he put that ball in play with authority,” Kapler said about Crawford. “I think we’ve seen that he can play both third base and shortstop well at the Major League level.”

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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