April 23, 2024

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Christian Bach was one of the standout players in Phillies spring training – NBC Sports Philadelphia

Christian Bach was one of the standout players in Phillies spring training – NBC Sports Philadelphia

CLEARWATER, Fla. – For all the talk over the past six months about Johan Rojas' defensive impact with the Phillies, the offensive question marks in his game and his projected role when the 2024 season begins…don't forget Christian Pasch.

Few defensemen have the first step, range and instincts that Rojas does, but Bache is not far behind as a defender. His ability to play center field was a major reason why he was considered by MLB.com and Baseball America as one of the top 15 prospects in the sport ahead of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

“He's right there with (Rojas),” head coach Rob Thompson said after Thursday's game. “He can defend in any position on the field.”

Bache did not hit with the Braves and did not hit with the A's. The Phillies acquired him from Oakland the day before Opening Day 2023, and in a small sample size of 95 plate appearances, he held his own offensively. He arrived in Philadelphia as a career .156/.205/.234 hitter in 115 games. With the Phils, he hit .238/.319/.417 with 10 extra base hits and a league average OPS.

Fast forward to this spring training, and he was one of the Phillies' early offensive standouts, going 3-for-7 with two home runs, including one Thursday in Dunedin against the Blue Jays.

“I feel good,” Bache said through team translator Diego Danilo. “I'm doing my routine with Kevin Long and the rest of the coaching staff and it's given me a lot of results. I've been working over the offseason in spring training.

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“I feel good, I feel familiar. I can say I feel more comfortable now. I think I found something in my swing and that's been the key. I'm with my family and friends here (in Florida) and I'm trying to work hard to get a job.” I feel comfortable in Philadelphia. “I'm just trying to do my best to help the organization.”

Bache was in fine form at the plate last summer when pain developed in his right elbow from a screw inserted there in 2016. He hit .372 with seven doubles and two home runs in 47 plate appearances prior to that injury, including a homer Game-winner for Miami before being placed on the IL. He came back in September and struggled at the plate, but overall, the season was a step in the right direction.

“It seems like the bat keeps getting better,” Thompson said. “As soon as we got him last year, Qi Lung went to work on him and started hitting left-handers. Now, he seems to have a chance to hang out with right-handers.

“He was great. He lets the ball travel and uses the whole field. He's tough, he's got power. If he gets the ball in the air and swings at strikes, he'll have some success.”

Comfort, as always, plays a role. A year ago Patchi didn't have much time to get to know his new teammates and it took a few months for his personality to start to emerge.

Bache is trying to cement his place in the roster and might start more than expected in midfield if Rojas doesn't strike, but that's not the same kind of pressure he felt in Atlanta, where he was trying to prove he was as good as advertised, or in Oakland, where he was the centerpiece of a comeback. Athletics star first baseman Matt Olson.

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“I can say I was a little excited during those moments,” he said. “I've tried to prove myself a lot by doing more than I can at the moment. But at the moment, I have a different mentality and that has helped me.”

“I'm going to work hard. I have to work hard. This is the only thing I can do that I can control.”