A spring competition ended Saturday when the Phillies re-assigned Maikel Franco, who was unlikely to win the third base job from Cody Asche, to the minor leagues.
Franco hit .184 this spring, 7-for-38 with seven singles. Ryne Sandberg told reporters including CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury that he'll need to work on shortening his swing.
The Phils' next decision is Double-A or Triple-A for Franco. In 2013 he tore up the Eastern League in 69 games after a promotion from Clearwater. For Reading, Franco hit .339 with a .926 OPS, 15 homers and 51 RBI in 292 plate appearances. There is nobody blocking Franco at Lehigh Valley, but the Phils may decide to start him back at Reading to get him going offensively.
Asche, who wasn't officially named the starting third baseman but will be, gets the chance to prove himself offensively. He had a nice three-week run last season, batting .333 over 24 games with four homers, six doubles, a triple and 18 RBI. That came after his 1-for-17 start.
He's going to need to hit to balance out a glove that -- in an admittedly small sample of major-league time -- looked average. Third base defense was an issue last year for a Phillies team that's declined defensively across the board. Asche showed impressive range at times but made five errors -- a few ugly ones -- in 50 games.