Amid struggles at plate, Asche sent down

Amid struggles at plate, Asche sent down

PHILADELPHIA -- Cody Asche always understood the importance of the 2016 season to his future with the Phillies.

But the season has not gone according to plan. He missed the first two months with a strained right oblique and then hit .213 with 14 doubles, four home runs, 17 RBIs and a .643 OPS in 192 plate appearances over 57 games. He has hit .120 with a .370 OPS in his last 26 games, which is why the Phillies optioned him Friday to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

"That basically sums it up," Asche said of his lackluster offense as the key culprit for his demotion. "I can't sit here and say I got screwed or anything. It's a performance business. If you don't perform, you have to go somewhere else."

Peter Bourjos takes Asche's spot on the roster. He had been on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right shoulder. Bourjos is expected to get the bulk of playing time in right field with Aaron Altherr playing in left field and Odubel Herrera in center field.

"We wanted Asche to get at-bats, go down there and figure himself out," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He hasn't been the same hitter, and we're exhausting every possibility of getting him back on track, and we don't want to do it here."

Mackanin said the Phillies want Asche to play some third base and first base, as well as left field, while he is in Triple-A to give him more versatility.

Asche is expected to rejoin the team once rosters expand Sept. 1, but one wonders where he stands after that. Herrera and Altherr seem likely to be in the 2017 outfield, and top prospects Nick Williams and Roman Quinn could join the Phillies before the end of the season. Double-A outfielder Dylan Cozens may also not be far away.

Asche could fit as a role player, if he could produce enough offensively, but that has not happened recently.

Does Asche wonder how he fits in the Phillies' future plans?

"Yes and no," Asche said. "I understand how excited you guys feel, how the prospects and everything are," he said. "But in reality, the way teams are built, and the way that those guys come up and succeed is when they're surrounded with people who know what's going on and can kind of guide them through what needs to be done. I don't really worry about my future within the organization. I would hope I'm respected enough to where if my ability shows, that I have a spot in this room, and that's all I can really hope for."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.