We are back with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies Mailbag.  Each week we take your Phillies questions and answer them on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill.  Tune in Tuesday afternoons to hear your questions answered on the air.  Ask your question at any time on Twitter/X @FrankKlose or text the show at 609-403-0973.

Any reasoning that J.T. Realmuto hasn't played first base this season?

Well, Michael, he almost did on Sunday.  Had J.T. Realmuto - who was on deck to pinch hit when Garrett Stubbs hit a screamer to first baseman Joey Gallo for a line out double play - tied the game, he would have had to enter the game at first base.  Jake Cave would have gone to center to replace Johan Rojas, vacating first base for Realmuto.

But you bring up a good point.  This is something I was surprised about, especially the earlier part of the season.  When the Phillies were without Rhys Hoskins AND Darick Hall, and while Bryce Harper was still out, I thought it would have been a good idea.

Realmuto has appeared in 100 games at catcher this season. That is more than any other catcher in baseball.   Other catchers such as Salvador Perez, Adley Rutschman, Cal Raleigh, and Tyler Stephenson have appeared in more games total, but have spent time at designated hitter or first base to help reduce the wear and tear on his body.

The Phillies paid Realmuto $23.1 million per year to be the catcher that plays the most in baseball.  But I would worry about his diminished offensive performance as a potential sign is body is taking too much behind the plate.

But, here we are mid-August and August has been Realmuto's best month.  He's batting .310 with a 1.030 OPS so far.  So maybe I am wrong.

I think Michael Lorenzen just earned himself a contract on the Phillies pitching staff beyond this year good rotation piece going forward.  What do you think?

Well, what a home debut for Michael Lorenzen.  But let's make sure we are able to look at everything rationally and not be skewed by his two Phillies starts.  Those two starts were arguably the best two starts of his major league career.

I went through every Michael Lorenzen appearance in his career.  During his rookie season of 2015, he went seven innings twice.  After 2015, he worked almost exclusively as a reliever until the Los Angeles Angels gave him the opportunity to start in 2022.

His best start in 2022 was when he got the victory against the Chicago White Sox on May 23.  He went 8 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs.

I think it's fair to say his no-hitter was his best.  He got one less out in his first Phillies start, going eight full innings.  But he allowed just two earned runs in his Phillies debut ahead of the no-hitter.

It's really encouraging to see him thriving.  In fact, I have flashbacks of 2009 Cliff Lee coming to Philadelphia with a certain grit and determination to make the playoffs. But, I can almost assure you there will be starts that don't go so well for him before this season is done.

I would think there would be mutual interest in a reunion.  The Phillies had interest in Lorenzen prior to the season.  And, he seems to be a good fit with this Phillies team and with his catcher, J.T. Realmuto.

I can see it happening; but figuring out how long-term might be a little premature since we've only seen Lorenzen at his best.

What are the chances we see Rhys Hoskins play in a Phillies uniform in 2023? Are these highlights of him currently working out just a tease?

Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins has been around the team a lot lately.  Besides workouts at Citizens Bank Park, Hoskins even took the last road trip with the Phillies.  So there has been plenty of video of him working out, or, of Hoskins in the dugout cheering his teammates on.

Alex Coffey of the Philadelphia Inquirer got the scoop from Hoskins, who finds being around the team therapeutic:

“It’s tough sometimes. Being around the game and not being able to play it is tough, in general. But being around these games, being able to talk about the game rather than talk about my rehab, getting a three-hour break away from so much energy being poured into my knee and my body, I think it’s a good thing all around.”

However, Hoskins is ahead of schedule.

Tim Kelly of Phillies Nation reports that a Hoskins return for the playoff is at the very least "possible":

While Thomson cautioned that he’s “not a doctor,” he did acknowledge that Hoskins is “ahead of where I thought he would be at this time.” Hoskins is doing short sprints and light running. He could “possibly” begin swinging a bat in the next week or 10 days, Thomson added. He’s already doing his throwing program. Thomson estimated that Hoskins would need “two to three weeks of at-bats,” before returning to the Phillies. This isn’t to say he’s close to returning. He’s not. But the possible scenario of Hoskins rejoining the Phillies for a playoff run is at least still in play.

Of course, Hoskins returning would mean other things.

For one, either Kyle Schwarber would likely have to play left field.  If Hoskins is able to bat, my guess would be that he would not take the field.  So if Hoskins is the designated hitter, that bumps Schwarber back to left field.

And of course, if Hoskins could play first base, Harper would have to either be the designated hitter or play the outfield.  Harper playing the outfield has yet to be completely ruled out.  But the Phillies might prefer not to test Harper's arm just yet.

Who knows, maybe Hoskins will get to play in the playoffs.  Or maybe he will have a dramatic playoff home run in the way that Kirk Gibson had while injured in 1988.

A Hoskins return is far from a sure bet, but it's possible.

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