Phillies

Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla. — One of the reasons that Phillies officials did not mine deeply into the free-agent market for outfielders this winter was they wanted to give Aaron Altherr a chance to prove what he could do.

Altherr will still get that chance someday, but it won’t come any time soon. He will have surgery on his injured left wrist on Wednesday. The recovery time, according to general manager Matt Klentak, is four to six months.

It’s a tough blow for Altherr. The 25-year-old Arizonan had worked his way from being a ninth-round draft pick in 2009 to the point where he was projected to be the Phillies’ opening day rightfielder in April.

“It’s disappointing for a young player who had a lot to prove and we were excited to watch him play,” Klentak said. “We’re hopeful he’ll be back before the end of the season.”

A four-month recovery would mean Altherr could be back around the All-Star break. A longer recovery would push his return into the second half of the season.

Altherr injured his wrist while trying to make a diving catch in the first inning of Friday’s Grapefruit League game in Clearwater. He left the game after the inning. Altherr initially did not believe he was hurt seriously. After further examination, he was sent to Philadelphia to be seen by hand/wrist specialist Randall Culp on Monday. He received a second opinion in New York on Tuesday.

Altherr has a torn ECU tendon sheath in the wrist. Culp will perform the surgery.

Altherr played himself into an opportunity in the Phillies’ outfield with a strong showing at Double A and Triple A last season. He carried his strong play over to Philadelphia, where he posted an .827 OPS in 39 games after being recalled in mid-August. Twenty of his 33 hits were for extra bases. This young and rebuilding Phillies team is expected to struggle to score runs. Losing Altherr’s bat will hurt. He is also a top defender.

Other players to suffer ECU tendon sheath tears include Mark Teixeira of the Yankees. Teixeira suffered the injury in 2013. He had surgery in July of that year and missed the remainder of that season. He hits just .151 in 63 games before the surgery. The following year, he hit just .216 in 123 games. His OPS those two seasons was .700, far off his career mark of .882.

Less than a month before opening day, Klentak said his preference was to fill the sudden outfield opening in-house, though he would keep an eye on other camps for possible reinforcments. Rule 5 player Tyler Goeddel stood an excellent chance to make the club coming into camp. He now could be in the opening day outfield along with Peter Bourjos and Odubel Herrera.

“We’re not going to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves,” Klentak said. “We’ve got a lot of good players in camp that have been competing really hard for an opportunity and now there is that opportunity.

“We’d like to fill it internally. We owe it to the guys in camp to give them that chance to fill that spot. But we’ll survey the market and if there’s something out there that makes sense we’ll explore it. But we feel pretty good about the guys we have in camp.’’

Other than Altherr, Bourjos, Herrera and Goeddel, the Phillies have just two other outfielders — Cody Asche and Roman Quinn — on the 40-man roster. Asche has yet to play in the exhibition season because of an oblique strain and Quinn is ticketed for the minor leagues. Highly regarded prospect Nick Williams is also ticketed for the minors. Darin Ruf has seen time in the outfield and could be pressed into service there. Non-roster candidates David Lough and Cedric Hunter are also in camp.