>The already disappointing baseball season in Philadelphia took another turn for the worse, as star shortstop Benito Sosa was lost for the season with a herniated disk in his neck–only 35 games into a 3 year/$21 million contract. Sosa was hitting .260/.326/.435 with 6 HR and 19 RBI, relatively poor power numbers for the slugging shortstop but the best OBP of his career. His .995 FP was among the best in the league. He was 2 for 4 with a 3-run home run in his final game of the season.
Sosa had been very durable up to this point in his career, starting 161 games in each of the previous two seasons. Trainers believe that Sosa can return in relatively good condition, but caution that his arm strength and power could be substantially reduced.
To fill Sosa’s spot in the lineup, the Milkmen will use the third base platoon of Bernie Uribe (.365/.389/.654/4 HR/6 RBI/4 SB in 52 AB) and rookie Jacob Dunn (.284/.343/.568/6 HR/24 RBI/10 SB in 95 AB). Both 3Bs have hit very well in the season, and while neither can match Sosa’s defensive talent, coaches think that their offense will make up for that shortfall. While neither has played shortstop in Philadelphia, both have experience in the minors: 297 starts for Uribe and 226 for Dunn. Glove man Carlos Bennett will remain as a defensive replacement.
Sosa’s injury came as the Milkmen struggle to pull themselves out of a deep hole caused by a 3-13 run. Since then, Philadelphia has mostly returned to form, winning 8 of the last 10 with the two losses coming by a total of two runs. Now even at 18-18, the Milkmen should be back in the race for at least the AL Wild Card. Sosa’s injury notwithstanding, offense has not been a problem for Philadelphia, which leads the AL with 224 runs scored and places second with an .851 OPS. The Milkmen’s slide was caused by pitching: Philadelphia has recently improved to a 1.48 WHIP and 5.90 ERA, unimpressive numbers but considerably better than earlier in the season. Coaches hope that the addition of rookies Julio Rosado (4.05 ERA in 11 relief appearances) and Geraldo Nunez (0 ER in 2 relief appearances) to the rotation can stem the bleeding, with none of Philadephia’s other 3/4/5 starters managing to post an ERA under 7.