Despite time in left, Asche's immediate future at hot corner

Infielder expected to open season at third, but expanding versatility if Franco emerges

Despite time in left, Asche's immediate future at hot corner

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Much has been made this spring about Phillies third baseman Cody Asche working in left field.

Versatility defensively could help Asche in the future, especially if Maikel Franco fulfills his promise and the Phillies want him to be the regular at third. But while Asche is getting some work in left, manager Ryne Sandberg said Sunday it is unlikely Asche gets a lot of work there.

Sandberg said he wants Asche spending "95, 96 percent of his time on being ready to play third base on Opening Day."

Franco is going to get a look this spring, but he is expected to open the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, so he can continue his development and get at-bats on an everyday basis. Barring something unforeseen, Asche will be the everyday third baseman to start the season.

Asche hit .252 with 25 doubles, 10 home runs, 46 RBIs and a .699 OPS last season. The Phillies want to see if he can improve upon that as they build for the future.

"He's getting the basic fundamentals in left field," Sandberg said of Asche. "I don't know if somewhere in the spring he gets one game under his belt at the Minor League level. That remains to be seen, but that's a possibility. I want him to be ready to play third base Opening Day."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.