Mackanin hopes Franco plays winter ball

Manager praises Caribbean experience for youngsters

Mackanin hopes Franco plays winter ball

BOSTON -- With Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco hard-pressed to return from a left wrist fracture before the season ends, interim manager Pete Mackanin would like to see the 23-year-old play in one of the Caribbean Leagues this winter.

Franco, who is not expected to resume any baseball activities before he is re-evaluated by doctors on Tuesday, should be counted upon heavily in Philadelphia next season. The Dominican slugger has slashed .277/.340/.490 with 13 home runs and 48 RBIs in 77 games for the Phillies this year.

"I think it's always good for players to play winter ball. Especially young players," Mackanin said on Saturday. "The more experience you gain, the better off you're going to be. It makes you a better player. You're going to learn from that."

Mackanin speaks from experience, having played for three teams across five seasons in the Venezuelan Winter League. He first joined the league in 1973 as a shortstop for the Leones del Caracas and later returned to manage the Aguilas del Zulia for two seasons, guiding them to a Caribbean Series championship in 1989.

He called his experience a fruitful one -- even if he had fruit thrown at him from time to time.

"There's certainly a lot of pressure down there," Mackanin said. "You learn how to deal with the pressure because having oranges thrown at you and the occasional bottle when you make an error is a good learning experience, as long as you don't get hurt."

In addition to dealing with the nuances of a different league -- Mackanin cited a higher number of pitchers who rely on breaking balls -- he said players can benefit from the leagues' high-energy atmosphere, which offers a taste of the tension faced in the big leagues.

"It's all about winning there," Mackanin said. "There's no development. Win, and if you don't play well, you're out. They get rid of you. So that pressure in itself is enough to help you manage the pressure when you get to the big ones. It's valuable as far as I'm concerned."

Worth noting

• Although Mackanin repeated his wish to give Cody Asche a majority of the starts at third base moving forward, he sat him against Red Sox lefty Wade Miley on Saturday. Asche is hitting .237 with just three extra-base hits off southpaws this season.

"He'll get the brunt of the playing time. I didn't want to play him against a lefty because he needs to build his confidence back up," Mackanin said.

• The Double-A Reading Fighting Phils captured their first Eastern League Eastern Division title in 15 years on Thursday night with a 2-1 victory over Binghamton. In addition, Reading catcher Andrew Knapp earned League Player of the Month honors after batting .404 with nine doubles, eight homers and 28 RBIs in August.

Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.