Phillies’ Alec Bohm poised to continue getting better after making a big leap last season

Scott Lauber The Philadelphia Inquirer

Nine months after committing three throwing errors in as many innings, drawing a mock cheer from the home crowd for making a routine play, and getting caught on camera saying, “I (bleeping) hate this place,” Alec Bohm represented the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night in accepting Team of the Year honors from the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association.

How’s that for a reversal of fortune?

“Looking back, last year felt like almost two years, where the beginning of last season didn’t even feel like it was last season,” Bohm said before the annual PSWA dinner at Cherry Hill, Camden County. “Things are going to go up and down with this game. I’ve seen that over the course of my three years here. Just staying the course and knowing things are going to end up being OK, that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned .”

But Bohm’s revived reputation is only part of why manager Rob Thomson maintains he hasn’t seen a player improve so much in one season.

People are also reading…

The Phillies were open to trading Bohm late in spring training. They benched him for five days after his error-filled nightmare and subsequent apology. He was prone to emotionally fits and lapses in concentration. Infield coach Bobby Dickerson challenged him to prove he could live up to his potential as the third overall pick in 2018.

But as Bohm steadied his defense, his confidence began to grow. By midseason, the 26-year-old was batting third in the order, playing a solid third base and cementing his place among the core of a surprising pennant winner.

And now, less than a month before spring training, Bohm is the Phillies’ undisputed third baseman.

“He made so many strides, not only physically but mentally and emotionally over the course of the year,” Thomson said. “I’ve never seen a guy grow in one year as Alec did, especially at the big league level.”

Bohm actually helped carry the Phillies through the middle of the season while Bryce Harper was sidelined by a broken thumb. He batted .434 with a 1,088 on-base plus slugging percentage in July, his best month as a major leaguer. In the playoffs, he went 2-for-5 with two doubles and a pivotal hit by pitch in the wild-card series sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals and homered off Houston Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. in Game 3 of the World Series .

Thomson noted that Bohm has “put some really good weight on” in the offseason. Bohm downplayed it as “nothing crazy” and said he’s only about five pounds heavier than when the World Series ended. But he also conceded that he has worked to get stronger during an offseason spent with friends in Houston.

Bohm recently went to Arizona to work with hitting coach Kevin Long. He’s still filling out his 6-foot-5, 218-pound frame. By adding muscle and making a few swing adjustments, he has the potential to develop more power after finishing last season with 24 doubles, 13 homers, and a .398 slugging percentage that ranked 16th among third basemen with at least 300 plate appearances.

“I feel better, feel strong, feel good, but I’m just looking to be available every day,” Bohm said. “There’s all different shapes and sizes in the league. For me, I just want to be available every day, so this is kind of the route I’ve seen that leads to that.”

If anything, the biggest change for Bohm will be playing alongside a new shortstop. But then, Bohm knows all about Trea Turner, even if he doesn’t really know the two-time All-Star and former batting champion who signed an 11-year, $300 million contract in December.

“He gets on base a lot, so just from talking to him a lot throughout the games,” Bohm said of his relationship with Turner. “But we’ve seen a lot of him over the last couple years. I’m excited to see him on our side, for sure.”

Expectations will be higher this year — for the Phillies and their third baseman.

“You kind of know the road, right?” Bohm said. “There’s a certain way that you get to the end. I think we saw that. If things don’t go well at the beginning of the season, you’re not going to see much panic because we’ve been there before. There’s that comfort of knowing how it’s done.

“It’s a good team, and somehow we got better. I think we made a bunch of good additions.”

Extra bases

General manager Sam Fuld said there’s been “loose dialogue” over an extended period with Aaron Nola’s representatives about a contract extension. Nola is eligible for free agency after the season. Talks could gain steam before opening day. … Ten Phillies players are listed on preliminary rosters for the World Baseball Classic, according to Thomson, including Turner, JT Realmuto and Kyle Schwarber for Team USA. Edmundo Sosa (Panama), Taijuan Walker (Mexico), Gregory Soto and Seranthony Domínguez (Dominican Republic), José Alvarado and Ranger Suárez (Venezuela), and Garrett Stubbs (Israel) could also compete. Those players would leave camp in March and stay away for as long as their countries are playing in the 13-day tournament.

Leave a Comment