Philadelphia Phillies prospect Matt Vierling has been hottest hitter in the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils lineup so far this season, but a minor injury has kept his name out of the batting order as of late.
“I’ve been dealing with a little bit of a hand issue,” Vierling told Phillies Nation on Saturday ahead of Reading’s doubleheader at FirstEnergy Stadium. “Just a little bit of inflammation in there.”
The 24-year-old outfielder’s left hand first started bothering him two weeks ago due to “overuse” during Reading’s away series against the Bowie Baysox. Vierling missed the first three games of the team’s next series against the Akron RubberDucks starting May 18, but returned to play the final three from May 21-23.
He played the first game of this week’s series against the Richmond Flying Squirrels on Tuesday, but didn’t play in Thursday’s doubleheader. Vierling was not included in the lineup for Game 1 of Saturday’s 4:45 doubleheader, and didn’t seem to expect to take the field for Game 2 either. However, he said he sees his return sooner than later.
“It just depends on, day to day, how I’m feeling,” Vierling said. “Whether that [takes] the next couple games or within the week, I don’t think it should be too long. … So, just a little bit of rest and day to day see how it feels, and I’ll be back in there.”
This all comes at an inopportune time, as Vierling was in the midst of a strong Double-A debut for the scuffling 4-17 Fightins. He leads Fightins hitters with a minimum of 10 plate appearances in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, slashing .298/.400/.596 in 15 games.
Vierling’s four doubles and 10 RBIs lead the team as well, and his total of four home runs is just one short of the five he hit for High-A Clearwater in 2019. The 2018 fifth-round pick put an emphasis on hitting the ball out in front of the plate this year, and he’s been doing damage — at least when he’s actually able to play.
“Definitely frustrating,” he said of the timing of his injury. “But when you kind of put things in perspective, it’s a long year and I’m grateful to get off to a good start and grateful that the training staff and everyone has been so helpful with everything.”
And while he should return to action soon, the outfielder will keep his attention on his recovery and focus on the task in front of him. Vierling said he’ll keep a similar mindset when he’s back on the field.
“Just take it day by day,” he said. “I don’t really like thinking too far into the future about stuff. … Just every day going out there and doing what I have to do and trying not to get too complicated and keeping it simple.”
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