MIAMI — Maikel Franco, who opened the season hitting fourth in the Phillies' lineup, could be sent to Triple A if he doesn't break out of his slump.
"We've talked about it," manager Pete Mackanin said before Tuesday night's game against the Miami Marlins. "That's about all I'll say. It's been discussed."
Franco has a hit in just three of his last 25 at-bats to fall to .209 on the season. His on-base percentage is a woeful .268 and he is slugging just .349.
Franco was benched for two days last week. Since then he has just two hits in 18 at-bats. He was not in the lineup on Tuesday night, but that was not a performance-based absence. Franco was ill.
"He's running a slight fever," Mackanin said.
Franco confirmed the illness and said he did not feel well Monday night.
Odubel Herrera was also out of the lineup as his performance-based benching continued for a second day (see story). Mackanin said Herrera would play Wednesday afternoon.
Herrera has had a dreadful month of May. In 25 games, he has hit .181 (19 for 105) with a .196 on-base percentage and a .257 slugging percentage. He has walked just once while striking out 29 times.
Last week, Mackanin talked about Franco's need to make changes at the plate. The 24-year-old third baseman pulls off many pitches, making himself vulnerable to soft stuff on the outside part of the plate.
"Befuddled is a good word," Mackanin said last week. "As much as he works in the cage and on the field in batting practice and does it right, when he gets in the game his head is still flying [out] and his bat is coming out of the zone.
"You've heard me say this many times: Hitting is like riding a bike. I can't teach you to keep your head in there. I can tell you to do it, but you have to do it on your own and he's got to figure it out. Guys have to figure it out. They have to figure out how to get the job done. Whether it's cut down on your swing, choke up, use a different bat, use a different stance, do something different. If you make outs the same way over and over, it's not going to change.
"At this level you've got to produce. You want to play, you've got to hit and they have to understand that. Nobody is here on scholarship."