LOS ANGELES — The Phillies are facing some decisions in their outfield, and there could be more in a few weeks.
Manager Pete Mackanin said on Monday that outfielder Peter Bourjos would “most likely” be activated from the disabled list when the Phillies return home Friday. Bourjos suffered a mild strain of his right shoulder in Miami on July 26 and has been on a minor-league rehabilitation assignment at Triple A Lehigh Valley.
When Bourjos returns, someone will have to go.
“I don’t know who yet,” Mackanin said.
Little-used outfielder Jimmy Paredes could end up being the guy, but it’s too early to know for sure. These things sometimes have a way of working themselves out. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Phillies were considering ways to clear a roster spot for Aaron Altherr. Then Bourjos got hurt and there was the roster spot.
When the roster expands in September, the Phils could have more decisions to make in the outfield — specifically decisions on who plays where and how much.
Nick Williams is coming up from Triple A at some point. He could be a regular in the outfield next season and the team wants to get him some experience and take a look at him.
But Williams might not be the only outfield prospect to come up. There has been substantial recent buzz that the Phillies could bring up speedy switch-hitting outfielder Roman Quinn, as well. Young players like Williams and Quinn can benefit simply from being in the majors and observing, but they also require some playing time to gain experience.
This is where Mackanin will have to do some juggling. If both Williams and Quinn come up, the manager will have four young outfielders that will need to get playing time. The team wants to see as much of Altherr, 25, as possible to determine where he fits in the future, and Odubel Herrera, though already a regular, is still just 24 and needs to play. In addition, Mackanin would still have Bourjos, Cody Asche and Tyler Goeddel, all of whom would require some reps, as well. If healthy, Bourjos could be a candidate to be traded.
In addition to doling out playing time, Mackanin would have to determine who plays where. Quinn profiles as a big-league centerfielder. Would he get reps there with Herrera playing a corner spot? Herrera did take balls in right field during a pregame workout a month ago. But Quinn has also played some corner outfield in the minors recently.
Quinn opened a lot of eyes, including those of general manager Matt Klentak, with his all-around play in spring training. He got off to a slow start at Double A Reading and later missed time with a strained oblique. He returned to action at Reading last week and has six hits in 16 at-bats. Overall, he is hitting .297 with a .370 on-base percentage in 54 games.
Quinn is already on the 40-man roster. So is his Reading teammate, catcher Jorge Alfaro. That helps both players’ chance of getting a September call-up — that and the team's belief that both could make the jump to the majors next season. Williams is not yet on the 40-man roster, but must be added this offseason.
The Phillies have a number of other prospects that they must add to the 40-man roster this winter or risk losing in the Rule 5 draft, including slugger Dylan Cozens, catcher Andrew Knapp, second baseman Jesmuel Valentin, outfielder Andrew Pullin, pitcher Ben Lively and others. Spots on the 40-man roster will be at a premium. That’s why there is a chance — though nothing is certain at this point — that shortstop J.P. Crawford will not be among the team’s September additions. The Phils are not required to protect the 21-year-old shortstop this winter. They could opt to skip a September call-up for Crawford so they can protect an additional prospect from being exposed to the Rule 5 draft. Even if Crawford were not called up in September, he would still be in big-league camp in February with a chance to make the club.
Of course, the Phils could decide that it’s worth eating up a 40-man roster spot before they have to in order to get a look at Crawford in September. This is just one of the questions the team will be facing with some of their young players in the coming weeks.