Hometown Report

Phillies' Rhys Hoskins enduring painful season. Another Jesuit grad seeks majors return

Philadelphia Phillies' Rhys Hoskins was hit in the face by a foul ball during the ninth inning against Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday, May 28, 2018, in Los Angeles.
Philadelphia Phillies' Rhys Hoskins was hit in the face by a foul ball during the ninth inning against Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday, May 28, 2018, in Los Angeles. AP

One of them took a 95-mph foul ball off his face but reports that all of his teeth and marbles remain intact, if the swelling tells a different tale.

The other hopes to impose his will with a fastball in a return to the pitcher's mound.

Two Jesuit High School graduates planned to be in uniform in the Bay Area this weekend, one with a bat in his hand and the other with a ball.

Rhys Hoskins is the starting left fielder for Philadelphia Phillies, who open a three-game series at San Francisco on Friday, but he may have an ice bag pressed to his cheek. He is likely headed to the 10-day disabled list with a fractured jaw, according to reports – a blow for the one-time Sacramento State slugger who burst onto the Major League Baseball scene a year ago with prodigious power and poise.

Hoskins is 25 with a lifetime of baseball in front of him. And he will have stories to tell, none more frightening than the pitch he absorbed against the Dodgers on Monday night, dropping him.

Some 19 miles away on Saturday night in Marin County, J.P. Howell will start on Opening Day at Albert Park for the San Rafael Pacifics. This is an independent team that offers no more than $700 a month for players hoping to take off or hang on.

One last shot

Howell, a 35-year-old left-hander, earned his MLB millions over 12 seasons as a reliever. He wants one last shot at the bigs.

He reached out to the Pacifics front office to see if he could try out. That wouldn't be necessary, he was told. Come aboard.

The Pacifics deemed the addition of Howell as "a stunning announcement." Howell surely provides the team with a boost, and wait until they get a load of his free-spirited attitude.

"I'm truly excited," Howell said. "I've worked hard this offseason to get my arm back in shape and I'm anxious to prove that I can still get professional hitters out. Pretty excited to get rollin’ again"

Said Pacifics manager Matt Kavanaugh in a statement, "J.P. asked to come here as a starter and I’m all for it. He has nothing left to prove as far as I’m concerned, and if this is a new challenge for him, then I’m glad to be a part of it.”

Howell produced a 2.81 ERA from 2008-16 and had an ERA lower than 2.80 for five seasons. He has pitched in the postseason, including the World Series with Tampa Bay in 2008.

‘When it rains, it pours’

Hoskins against the Dodgers didn't have time to react to the fastball that ricocheted off the right side of his jaw, a inch or so from his mouth. He was relieved to only suffer a cut on the inside of his lower lip and facial swelling.

"I'm feeling pretty lucky," Hoskins told reporters Tuesday. "I thought it was going to be a lot worse."

Hoskins did not play Tuesday to heal. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told reporters before Wednesday's game against the Dodgers that Hoskins will not return to the lineup until healthy.

“Your mouth tends to heal a lot faster, so I guess it’s just time and Neosporin,” Hoskins said Tuesday, adding, "when it rains, it pours."

Hoskins was referring to his recent slump.

He is batting .229 this season and .151 in May, including three strikeouts on Monday. The third strikeout was something of an oddity. Hoskins departed after getting struck in the face with a 1-2 count in the ninth inning but was charged with the strikeout when Pedro Florimon, his replacement, struck out.

Hoskins enjoyed a banner first month in the show last summer. He became the fastest in MLB history to hit nine home runs, doing so in 16 games and 54 at-bats last August.

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tough," Hoskins said of his slump. "But it’s part of the game. The biggest thing I’m taking from it is when I do get out of it I know that in the future when it happens again, because it’s going to happen again, that I’m going to be able to get out of it.

"It’s just one of those things that you’re just going to have to ride out. Unfortunately it’s been a lot longer than I would hope for."

Said Kapler to Phillies media Tuesday, “It's reasonable to say that Rhys has gone through some tough challenges recently, but I don't worry about him at all. He's as tough mentally as we have on our club. I have a tremendous amount of faith in his mental toughness and his physical capability. That never wavers.

"We still think Rhys is an excellent hitter and one of the best offensive performers in the league and will be going forward."