"Everybody wants to see his bat, but Tommy Joseph has done well enough and there's enough games left for him to show even more improvement," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said before Tuesday's game against the Braves at SunTrust Park. "It's hard. You don't want to put Tommy Joseph on the bench, so maybe this is a way to do it."
Mackanin said last month that Joseph and Hoskins could not coexist on the same roster because both are right-handed-hitting first basemen. But with outfielder Aaron Altherr expected to miss two to three weeks because of a strained right hamstring the Phillies took advantage of an unexpected opportunity and temporarily moved Hoskins to left field.
Mackanin acknowledged that if Altherr hadn't suffered the injury, Hoskins probably still would be playing first base for the IronPigs.
"We just want to see his bat up here," he said.
Hoskins made three putouts in Tuesday's game.
Mackanin said he heard that Hoskins, 24, did "OK" in his outfield debut Monday. It was the first time Hoskins played anywhere other than first base in 453 Minor League games.
Hoskins is the No. 71 prospect in baseball according to MLBPipeline. Long term, the Phillies consider Hoskins a first baseman. In fact, it would not be a surprise to see him at first base on Opening Day next season. The Phillies tried to trade Joseph before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but struck out. They could try again in the offseason, especially if Hoskins fares well in the big leagues.
After a poor April, Joseph has hit .261 with 20 doubles, one triple, 15 home runs, 47 RBIs and an .805 OPS in 339 plate appearances. Hoskins entered Tuesday hitting .281 with 23 doubles, four triples, 27 home runs, 85 RBIs and a .953 OPS in 465 plate appearances. He has walked 64 times and struck out 75 times.
Mackanin lamented the loss of Altherr, who is the team's best hitter this season.
"It's a shame for him," he said. "Let's say if he misses more than a month when he had a really good opportunity to win a job for next year. It's too bad that he's missed over a month."
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.