Phillies activate Mickey Moniak, who Joe Girardi says will play a lot

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Moniak back with Phillies and Girardi says he'll play him a lot originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Nick Castellanos stopped as he walked by Mickey Moniak, who was surrounded by reporters in his return to the Phillies' clubhouse.

"Is that Mickey Mantle? Great to see you," Castellanos said to the 24-year-old outfielder who is thrilled to be back.

Nearly eight weeks after suffering a fractured wrist being hit by a pitch in the Phillies’ final game of spring training, Moniak was in the lineup for his season debut on Memorial Day.

He batted seventh and started in center field Monday afternoon. The Phillies were facing Giants right-hander Logan Webb, but Joe Girardi indicated it won't just be righties Moniak faces.

"I'm going to play him a lot," the Phillies' skipper said. "We loved what we saw in spring training, the adjustments he's made. Mickey, in a sense, had won the job in spring training."

Moniak was in line to start for the Phillies on opening day before the injury. He had been on a roll in camp, hitting .378 with six homers and four doubles.

He began a rehab assignment on May 20, playing three games with Clearwater and five with Reading. He hit in all eight games and went 13 for 33 (.394) with two doubles, two triples and a homer.

"It's been a long 7½ weeks but who's counting?" Moniak said. "It's definitely good to be back. I feel like I picked up right where I left off and now it's just time to do everything I can to be Mickey Moniak and try to help this team win.

"I've always kind of prided myself my entire life on being someone who can pick up right where they left off, take a little break and still feel good at the plate. This rehab assignment, from the very beginning I was seeing the ball well."

The Phillies have again received below-average production from center field. Their centerfielders have combined to hit .217/.271/.355, ranking 22nd in batting average, 25th in on-base percentage and 23rd in OPS.

Moniak hits left-handed so there won’t be a platoon in center the way it might have been with Moniak and Matt Vierling to open the season. Vierling is now at Triple A. The other two centerfielders on the active roster are Odubel Herrera and Roman Quinn. Herrera also hits from the left side and Quinn is a switch-hitter with similar numbers from both sides.

Herrera, perhaps the streakiest hitter on a team filled with them, is coming off of a solid road trip. He went 7 for 19 with three doubles, a homer and four RBI. Asked about sitting Herrera during one of his hot streaks, Girardi said he could rest one of his corner outfielders a day this week. That made it sound even more like Moniak will get the bulk of the reps in center, at least for the short term.

Before Moniak could grab a bat again, he focused on getting mental reps.

"When I was watching these games on the bench, just trying to place myself in those situations and kind of picture myself in the box facing these guys," he said.

"The guys are going out there and busting their ass each and every day. I see that, I saw that for five weeks when I couldn't play and I was lingering around trying to get my hand right. The competitor in me wanted to be out there with the guys. In a 162-game season, the clubhouse becomes a brotherhood and you want to be out there with your brothers and trying to help the team win. That was the difficult side of it, just having that competitive spirit inside me. But can't change the past, what happened happened.

"I learned a lot from last year as far as what it takes, the ups and downs, how quick this game can change. I'm just trying to enjoy every second of it."

The Phillies made the corresponding roster move Sunday night, optioning left-hander Bailey Falter back to Triple A.

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