For most of the first three weeks of spring training the Philadelphia Phillies have been missing two players who have been starters for the last few rebuilding years. Both players were projected to be in the Opening Day starting lineup once again this season.
It now appears as if both second baseman Cesar Hernandez and center fielder Odubel Herrera will return over the next few days. The club expects that, assuming they are able to stay healthy from here on out, both players will be ready for the first regular season game of the 2019 season on March 28th at Citizens Bank Park.
Both Cesar Hernandez (strained hip flexor) and Odubel Herrera (hamstring) will return for the Phillies in the next few days — Hernandez at 2B Thursday, Herrera DH Saturday.
Roman Quinn (oblique) ran today, Phils going more slowly with him.
— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) March 13, 2019
Hernandez suffered a Grade 1 right hip flexor strain while running the bases on February 27 in a Grapefruit League game against the Minnesota Twins at Clearwater.
Exactly one week earlier, Herrera suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain while going from first to third during a baserunning drill. The setback was particularly frustrating for the 27-year-old. Herrera had arrived in Florida weeks earlier than required in anticipation of a battle with Roman Quinn for the starting center field job.
The position was thrown into even more chaos when Quinn suffered a strained oblique on the same day that Hernandez went down. Quinn’s return will take a bit longer, the Phillies are reportedly going to take it slow with him.
That puts the likelihood of Quinn heading north to Philly at the end of March in serious jeopardy. It also virtually assures that, if healthy, Herrera will be the everyday starter in center field, at least to begin the season.
Both Hernandez and Herrera have a lot to prove this year. Each has been a starter for the team when there were few expectations. But now on what is expected to be a contender, both need to produce. Both players saw their home run and RBI numbers increase last year but saw across-the-board decreases in nearly every other category.
Hernandez is expected to return to second base for Thursday’s game at LECOM Park in Bradenton against the host Pittsburgh Pirates. Herrera is slotted for his first Grapefruit League action as the DH on Saturday when the Phillies host the Houston Astros back in Clearwater.
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