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After magical May, Phillies’ Edmundo Sosa hopes ‘dream’ doesn’t end

PHILADELPHIA – Edmundo Sosa took a beat before his smile crossed the language barrier.

He’d have to check the Statcast numbers, he said Saturday night in the Phillies clubhouse. But yes, he assumed, the 439-foot missile he blasted off Miles Mikolas into Ashburn Alley was probably the farthest he’s every hit a baseball.

“I don’t know how far it went,” Sosa said, before flashing his ubiquitous grin, “but that ball definitely went a little far.”

It was, surpassing a 428-footer he belted in 2021.

Add another superlative to the pile for Sosa in the last month. Since Trea Turner strained his hamstring on May 4, Sosa has stepped in marvelously. He’s the National League’s leader in fWAR since then, not among just shortstops or Phillies, but in the whole league.

His decisive two-run homer in a 4-2 victory against the Cardinals is merely the latest blow in Sosa’s authoritative seizure of an opportunity.

“It feels good to be here and contributing to the team win,” Sosa said through a team translator. “I feel I’m privileged to be here. We’re the best team in the majors right now, and I’m happy to be here and support the team and contribute to our wins.”

Sosa is, even when not regularly in the lineup, a buoyant clubhouse presence. Given a chance to start, as he did for the 22nd time since Turner’s injury in Saturday night’s affair with the Cardinals, he’s taken the job with both hands.

Sosa is slashing .313/.387/.627 with a 1.014 OPS since Turner went down. He’s got three of his four home runs in that stretch, and he’s made zero errors in the field. Along the way, his 1.4 fWAR is ahead of everyone in the NL, with Bryce Harper second.

“I think he’s just a baseball player,” manager Rob Thomson said. “And he just wants to play. He loves to play. He’s a great teammate. I think he’s gotten an opportunity and he’s showed everybody that he can do it on a daily basis. I think for everybody, it’s tough to perform consistently when you’re not consistently in the lineup. So he’s had this opportunity, and he’s done a great job.”

“I think he really loves baseball, and you can see that anytime he hits a double or even a single, he’s so pumped all the time,” double-play partner Bryson Stott said. “I think just the way he goes about his routine, even when he’s not playing, he does the same exact thing as when he is playing and just kind of staying ready.”

Saturday provided a full-circle moment for Sosa. He was signed at age 16 by the Cardinals out of Panama in 2013 and debuted in the bigs in 2018. Acquired for JoJo Romero in the summer of 2022, he’s been part of each of the last two postseason runs and has grown tremendously since leaving St. Louis.

Sosa felt that Friday, sure as the Sammy Sosa-esque half-skip he brandished out of the box after crushing Mikolas’ slider.

“I think that they formed me in some sort of way,” he said. “They trusted me when I was 16 years old, recruited me from Panama and now I’m here. I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity that they gave me back in 2013. And now I’m with the Phillies. I’ve evolved a lot. I still learn and still work every single day and I’m really happy and enjoy the game of baseball. It’s always good to see old teammates, coaches and people that I shared the clubhouse with.”

Sosa has performed adequately in a difficult role the last two seasons, being asked to turn it on a couple of days a week. He provided an instant boost in 2022, batting .315 in 25 games.

Over 300 plate appearances in 2023, he was solid, with 10 homers and a .251 average. But the acquisition of Turner before the 2023 season and Stott’s rock-solid play closed off avenues to play regularly.

Sosa has adjusted, and he may now force the Phillies to. In the spring of 2023, facing their perennial dearth of outfielders, the Phillies experimented with Sosa in center.

The acquisition of Cristian Pache and emergence of Johan Rojas ameliorated that need, and Sosa has only played a total of four big league games in the outfield. But if Sosa keeps hitting, reps at a corner spot might end up being a way for Thomson to keep him in the lineup.

“Absolutely. If you keeps hitting like this, I mean, it’s going to be tough to take him out of the lineup,” Thomson said, while cautioning that, “we’re not there yet.”

When the time comes, Sosa will be game for it. Of that, there’s little doubt.

“I think that I’m living the dream right now,” he said. “I’m having a lot of fun on the field. I’m just trying to go out and do things right to work the best that I can and to get the team wins. I really feel good. I go out and have fun.”


Source: Berkshire mont

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