Kevin Frandsen is making the Phillies regret demoting him

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 30: Kevin Frandsen #19 of the Washington Nationals rounds first base after hitting a single against the Houston Astros in the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park on April 30, 2014 in Houston,Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

Kevin Frandsen spent the winter thinking about the Nationals. “How to kick their [butt], in all honesty,” he said Friday afternoon.

Frandsen assumed he would play again for the Phillies, for the third straight season. Instead, the Phillies demoted him to Class AAA at the end of spring training. “Blindside is a good way” to describe it, Frandsen said. “I was like the ball boy on the sideline that got run over by someone.”

Frandsen opted out of a guaranteed contract that would have paid him $900,000. The Nationals contacted him that day, and they would sign him to a deal worth the same, plus $300,000 in incentives. Friday, holding court with Philadelphia reporters, he admitted his anger with the Phillies’ front office.

“I was [upset],” Frandsen said. “I was [upset]. Like I said, I knew where I stood with [Manager Ryne Sandberg] and [the coaching staff]. But I was [upset]. If they thought I was roster flexibility, that’s what they thought. But I didn’t think that of myself. I earned my way to being on the bench, to being a vital part over there. That’s what I thought, and that’s the feeling I have, and I’m going to go with it.”

Frandsen will have to come off the bench Friday night. Manager Matt Williams played Tyler Moore in left field, because Moore is 4 for 9 with three doubles and a homer against starter Cliff Lee. Frandsen is 4 for 7 with two doubles and a homer against Sunday starter Cole Hamels, and he’ll start Sunday, Williams said.

Shortly after he switched NL East allegiances, did he circle this series on his calendar?

“No,” Frandsen replied, holding the ‘o’ before a pause. Then he cracked a smile. “You guys know me,” he said. “I don’t have a poker face.”

Frandsen made clear that he appreciated the Phillies and felt grateful for his time with the franchise. He loved playing for Sandberg, under whom he rebuilt his career at Class AAA Lehigh Valley. He said fans supported him even in the minors. But he also made clear that he still held some anger with the front office.

“I know where I stand with the coaching staff over there and where I was with the other guys,” Frandsen said. “I just felt more confident about myself than what they saw as far as the management side. It is what it is. I’m excited to be a National. I was excited and lucky to be a Phillie. That’s first and foremost. I got an opportunity to make it back up to the big leagues and play really well for them.”

So far, Frandsen has played well for the Nationals. He’s hitting .289, and his impact has gone beyond that. Frandsen has provided the Nationals a jolt of energy, a bat that drills left-handed pitching and an uplifting character in the clubhouse. With Bryce Harper out for two months, Frandsen has become a pivotal player.

It’s hard to imagine Frandsen wouldn’t be one of the Phillies’ best 25 players. In spring, the Phillies had little depth at third base, and they lacked pop against left-handed pitching – Frandsen played third, and in his career he’s hit .289 against lefties. In April, Phillies third basemen hit .149/.212/.223 and accounted for -1.6 wins above replacement. After one month, Frandsen has had the last word.

“I don’t care what it was on timing and circumstance,” Frandsen said. “I earned my way. I earned my right to have that contract. I went about it the right way to be on that team over there. It didn’t happen. We’re four games over .500 here, and I’m loving that. I’m loving winning.”

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