CLEARWATER, FL – At about 1 p.m. on Friday, Darrick Hall saw Reese Hoskins standing by his locker at the Phillies club. It was the first time he’d seen him since Thursday, when the veteran baserunner tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while trying to field a ground ball.
A lot has changed in those 24 hours. Shortly after the injury, the Phillies announced that Hoskins would undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season. On Friday morning, President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski announced that Hall, the 27-year-old hard-hitting first baseman, would replace him.
It was a difficult situation to deal with. Hall quietly cruised through the minor leagues for six seasons, waiting for his chance to make it. He was finally here, but it came at the expense of his friend and mentor.
He walked over and hugged his teammate.
“Rice, I’m so sorry,” he said. “This is really cruel.”
Hoskins did not accept the apology.
“Actually, I’m happy for you,” he said.
Hall was touched by his teammate’s response, but wasn’t surprised. This is always Hoskins. When Hall was in minor league spring training, he used to watch Hoskins practice hitting. He’s seen a patient player who makes good decisions. So, he started asking him questions about his approach, and Hoskins always took the time to answer.
Hall was selected in the 14th round of the 2016 draft. He wasn’t a big fan or a big name, but Hoskins was eager to learn that. Years later, when Hall made his major league debut in June 2022, he walked into the Phillies club and found his locker next to his friend’s.
Hall was called up in the wake of Bryce Harper’s broken thumb to replace him as the designated hitter, and he capitalized. He would ask Hoskins about the game, about the club and how to become a senior player. And as always, Hoskins was giving him a thoughtful answer.
“It was simple, but taking the time to help meant everything to me,” said Hall.
Read more: Rhys Hoskins tore his anterior cruciate ligament. Here’s what you need to know about the Phillies’ starting linebacker injury.
Hall credits Hoskins with shaping who he is as a player today, which made Thursday even more painful. He was not at BayCare Ballpark at the time of the injury; He was at a local hospital with his wife, Ashley, who was having surgery. As he sat in the post-op room, he saw clips of Hoskins circulating on Twitter.
He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He tried watching the clips in slow motion, to see how Hoskins cut himself, but that offered no clarity. It was a strange non-contact injury. There was no sense in doing so.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Hall said. “As an athlete, we look forward to competing at a high level. We put all that preparation into our body and our time in the weight room, and when you go out there and something like that happens, it breaks your heart, because you know all the work that went into it. It’s really sad.”
When Hall received the news that he would get the majority of his playing time at first base this season, he was bitter. But he sees it as an opportunity to advance his team. He thinks Hoskins views her the same way.
“He basically gave me his blessing to go do it,” said Hall. This is the ultimate sign of respect. As a player, his heart is in him. He knows we need people to step up.
“We play in similar positions, and he is not able to do that anymore [this year]. So this is my chance to move the needle forward for the team. It’s not personal. I’m going to move the needle as far as I can. I will not try to replace Reese. I’ll be Darrick Hall. I feel ready. I feel like I’m at my best ever. Unfortunately, injuries happen. But if I get the chance to help the team, that’s our goal.”
Read more: Five Phillies must-haves: Losing Rhys Hoskins is a bad thing. Losing these players would be even worse.
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