The Philadelphia Phillies have run into injury issues with their starting outfielders during spring training.
It began with projected starting right fielder Aaron Altherr, who injured his left wrist while diving for a ball in the first inning of a game on March 4th. Altherr subsequently needed to have surgery on the wrist on March 9th, with the recovery time keeping him out of the lineup for anywhere from four to six months.
Now it’s center fielder Odubel Herrera on the shelf. The man known as ‘El Torito’ injured the middle finger on his left hand while sliding head-first into home plate during a game in early March.
Herrera initially tried to play through the injury, and an x-ray came back negative. However, Herrera has continued to experience swelling and discomfort, and has been out of the lineup now for more than a week.
“…I’m concerned about it,” manager Pete Mackanin was quoted by CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury. “I don’t want to say it’s more than it is. He might be just being cautious. I’m anxious to see where he’s at. He’s one of our best hitters and I want to make sure he’s healthy going into the season.”
Herrera was available to the media today, still experiencing some inflammation and sporting a finger guard to protect the finger.
“It’s a little bit behind, nothing major,” said Herrera per PhillyVoice.com’s Ryan Lawrence. “I’m getting treatment on it and it feels better today. I saw a doctor this morning, there’s a little bit of inflammation left. I felt a lot better with the finger guard on.”
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The injury to Herrera would be a minor concern under normal circumstances. The loss of Altherr moves the needle on the concern barometer a bit further towards the major concern side the longer that he is out.
Some reporters have called for the Phillies to look into outfielders such as David Murphy, a 34-year old veteran who is trying to make the Boston Red Sox and has hinted that he might retire should he not make the opening day roster. Phillies GM Matt Klentak has said the he will be keeping an eye out for players who become available who might be able to help the Phillies.
I’m on record as saying that, at least at this stage, bringing someone such as Murphy in little to nothing to improve the Phillies’ situation. In more than 1,300 plate appearances over the last three seasons, Murphy has just a .253/.305/.392 slash line with 31 homers and three stolen bases.
The Phillies should not be at the panic stage at this point. If Herrera is able to return, they are fine. The current reserve options of David Lough and Cedric Hunter are younger and provide at least as much as players such as Murphy would bring to the team.
If it turns out that there is something more serious here, and were it to become evident that Herrera is going to miss significant time, then things change. But for now, that does not appear to be the case. Hopefully we see him take batting practice as soon as today, and return to the lineup by the weekend.