Last week, Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said that his team didn’t have an everyday center fielder “right now.” This week, the Phillies really don’t have an everyday center fielder.
Tuesday morning, MLB placed Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera on administrative leave after he was arrested Monday evening and charged with simple assault after a domestic incident with his girlfriend. According to Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia, Herrera is due back in court on June 17. Given that – and that the league will itself investigate the alleged incident – it’s unclear if and when Herrera will return to the Phillies.
The reason for Kapler’s quote last week is that even prior to being arrested, Herrera was slashing just .222/.288/.341 with a -0.2 fWAR in 39 games in 2019. This comes after he hit just .214 after the All-Star Break a season ago.
Andrew McCutchen started in center field Tuesday night, something that in the interim appears to be the plan against right-handed pitchers. On nights that the Phillies face a left-handed pitcher, super-utility man Scott Kingery will man center field, where he has started at four times this month. But neither, at this juncture, is an everyday center fielder.
Roman Quinn is a natural center fielder, and just in time, the oft-injured 26-year-old appears to be getting close to re-joining the Phillies.
Prior to Tuesday evening’s matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals, Quinn ran the bases. Before the game, Kapler told the collective media, which included Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer, that barring any setbacks, Quinn could begin a rehab assignment this upcoming weekend. It’s unclear how long said rehab stint would last for before Quinn would be ready to be activated.
Quinn, who has elite speed, has been on the injured list since suffering a Grade 2 groin strain in a win over the New York Mets on April 24. He’s only appeared in seven games in 2019, because he opened the year on the injured list with an oblique injury he suffered relatively early in Spring Training.
When Quinn does return, he plans to only hit right-handed, rather than continuing to switch-hit. In 148 at-bats as a left-handed hitter at the major league level, Quinn has hit just .230. However, in 65 career major league at-bats as a right-handed hitter, Quinn has hit .277.
The Phillies opened the season with Aaron Altherr as an option that could play all three outfield positions. But Altherr started slowly following a disappointing 2018 season, leading to him being designated for assignment and ultimately claimed by the San Francisco Giants. Altherr batted just once with the Giants, before again being designated for assignment and being claimed by the New York Mets. In his first at-bat with the Mets last Friday, Altherr hit a pinch-hit home run. He followed that up, however, by going 0-5 in a start the next day.
While Quinn will be a welcome addition back into the fold, it appears that another legitimate option in center field is becoming something that general manager Matt Klentak will have to look for this summer.
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