Phillies outfielder Roman Quinn is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Thursday night with Class A Clearwater.
Quinn missed most of spring training with a strained oblique. He has been getting at-bats in Clearwater in recent days and will now see game action as the Threshers' season opens.
The big question is what do the Phillies do once Quinn is ready to return? Quinn and Aaron Altherr are out of minor-league options so the Phillies would be at risk of losing them if they try to send either to the minors.
Nick Williams does have options remaining but has become Gabe Kapler's first weapon off the bench in key pinch-hitting opportunities. Williams was 0 for 4 as a pinch-hitter in the Phillies' first four games but delivered in that role on Wednesday, hitting an RBI single with runners on second and third and one out.
So what do the Phillies do? There are three main choices if the situation doesn't work itself out first with another injury:
• Trade Altherr or designate him for assignment.
• Send Williams to Triple A, where he'd gain useful everyday at-bats but couldn't help the big-league club which wants to win now.
• Add Quinn to the 25-man roster at the expense of a reliever like Edubray Ramos, giving the Phillies a five-man bench and seven-man bullpen.
It's not an easy decision. Parting ways with Altherr would leave the Phillies thin in center field if Quinn, who has been injured so frequently, gets hurt again. (This team does not view Williams as an option in center.)
Sending Williams to Triple A would hurt the Phillies' bench and perhaps decrease his trade value a bit.
Adding Quinn to the active roster and demoting a reliever would cause an even bigger logjam since three of the Phillies' five bench players would be outfielders.
On Tuesday in D.C., Altherr was honest about the situation. Most athletes say they block these things out, worry only about what they can control. Altherr said that's not what he's doing, that he, Williams and Quinn know something will have to happen and they're all kind of just looking around and wondering what and when.
A new opportunity wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for Altherr, who produced like a starting outfielder in 2017 (.272/.340/.516, 19 homers, 65 RBI) but hasn't been able to replicate that success. Even if Altherr isn't a true starter somewhere, he'd be the fourth outfielder for most teams in baseball, not the fifth or sixth like he is here now.
With Quinn, the beginning of his rehab assignment starts a 20-day clock after which the Phillies would have to bring him up. He likely will not need 20 days — he's been getting lots of at-bats already down in Florida before games began.
Upon his return, Quinn could spell Odubel Herrera in the outfield and take playing time away from him if he produces. Either way, he'll provide the Phillies a late-inning weapon on the basepaths and outfield.
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