Phils seeking bench production; Rollins gets a rest

Phils seeking bench production; Rollins gets a rest

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies haven't gotten much production from their bench this season, which has made it tougher for manager Ryne Sandberg to find rest for veteran starters Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd.

Rollins got a rare day off on Monday against the Mets, with Cesar Hernandez filling in at shortstop. Byrd has started all but one game this season in right field. Utley has started 50 games at second base and Howard has made 51 starts at first. So far, that quartet has remained healthy and productive.

"They haven't had too many days off," Sandberg said. "So with the stretch of games we're in now, I will try and pick my spots as needed and conversations with the players as needed."

The Phillies are currently in a stretch of playing 20 games in as many days, with their next scheduled off-day on June 9. After that, the Phils have 21 games in 20 days before a day off on June 30. Will Sandberg try to find rest for his veterans during that period?

"I'll play that by ear and keep an eye on the guys," the manager said.

The Phillies' bench had combined to hit .168 (54-for-321) this season entering Monday. That group includes Hernandez, Freddy Galvis, Reid Brignac, Jayson Nix, Tony Gwynn Jr., John Mayberry Jr., Darin Ruf and Wil Nieves. The Phillies stressed defense when assembling their bench coming out of Spring Training, but a little more offensive production would help.

"I will try and get them some spot starts if I can," Sandberg said. "It would be best to get them some at-bats."

Nieves has been the best of the bunch, batting .268 in 11 starts as the backup catcher to Carlos Ruiz.

"Wil has been outstanding," Sandberg said. "He does a good job being ready to go, he gives quality at-bats and he's doing a nice job giving Chooch a break and still [adding] some offense to the lineup."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Austin Laymance is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @jalaymance. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.