roman quinn

Joe Girardi's Phillies lineup is nearly set, except for one outfield question mark

Joe Girardi's Phillies lineup is nearly set, except for one outfield question mark

The start of the Phillies' abbreviated 2020 season is two weeks away, and manager Joe Girardi has a pretty good idea of what his team's Opening Day defensive alignment will look like.  

J.T. Realmuto will be behind the plate, presumably catching Aaron Nola. Jean Segura will likely be the starting third baseman, next to new shortstop Didi Gregorius. Now healthy after a wicked bout with COVID-19, Scott Kingery projects as the starting second baseman. Rhys Hoskins will play first base. Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper are locked in at the corner outfield spots. 

That leaves center field as the only position up for grabs. 

Second-year player Adam Haseley and fourth-year veteran Roman Quinn are the primary candidates. 

The 24-year old Haseley was the 8th overall pick of the 2017 MLB draft and quickly climbed through the Phillies minor league system. He played 67 games last season as a rookie and showed flashes of being a productive big league outfielder, hitting .266 with 14 doubles, five home runs, and 26 RBI. He also made a handful of spectacular defensive plays.

Quinn, 27, has long tantalized the front office and fans alike with his immense talent. His blazing speed makes him a weapon on the basepaths and allows him to cover a ton of ground in the outfield. He also has a fair amount of pop, collecting 20 extra-base hits in 139 at-bats the last two seasons. But injuries have been a common theme throughout Quinn's professional career. He's never been able to stay healthy long enough to show what he's capable of over the course of a full season. 

Quinn and Haseley competed for the center field job during spring training in Clearwater and will continue to do so over the next two weeks of training camp at Citizens Bank Park. The manager isn't in a rush to name a starter.

"My mind is really open with that spot," Girardi told NBC Sports Philadelphia's Michael Barkann earlier this week. "If one guy emerges, it's one guy. If it's a platoon, it's a platoon. If one guy plays more than the other, we have that.

"The big thing is we get production out of center field, that's what I'm looking for. And that doesn't necessarily mean home runs, it could mean getting on base and scoring runs and a lot of different things including really good defense. I'm just going to let it play out and see who rises to the top here." 

Whoever plays center field will likely be hitting towards the bottom of the batting order. There won't be a ton of pressure to put up big offensive numbers. 

There is one other possibility to consider when it comes to the center field situation: Odubel Herrera.

The 28-year old Herrera isn't currently on the Phillies' 60-man summer camp roster, but he could be added at any point. GM Matt Klentak didn't rule out that scenario last week. 

On Thursday's 'Phillies Return to Play' show, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury indicated Herrera could still be an option if neither Haseley or Quinn play well enough to claim the job. 

There are a lot of question marks at the moment when it comes to the Phillies' center field job. Girardi is hopeful one of the candidates will step up over the next couple of weeks and provide some answers.

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Adam Haseley, the quietest guy in Phillies' clubhouse, should make strides in 2020

Adam Haseley, the quietest guy in Phillies' clubhouse, should make strides in 2020

Adam Haseley might be the quietest, most unassuming guy in the Phillies' clubhouse. He comes in every day, puts his head down and goes to work. No frills, no fuss and certainly no calling attention to himself.  

Toward the end of his rookie season last year, Haseley made a play that typified his modest demeanor.

It came on Sept. 4 in Cincinnati as the Phillies' postseason hopes were slipping away in an 8-5 loss to the Reds.

In the eighth inning of that game, Reds shortstop Freddy Galvis clubbed a ball to right-center. It had home run written all over it.

Haseley was in center field for the Phillies that night. Now, as a runner, Haseley does not have top-of-the-scale speed like teammate Roman Quinn. However, he does make good reads, get good jumps and run good routes on balls. He did all of the above on this night.

As Galvis connected with a pitch from Blake Parker, Haseley put his head down and sprinted to his left and toward the gap. As he got to the warning track, he looked back over his shoulder, located the ball and then, at full speed, timed his jump perfectly at the wall. His right arm rose high above the wall and he snatched the would-be home run from Galvis — not that anyone really knew it for a few seconds.

Staying true to his quiet, understated way, Haseley bounced off the wall and with his head down started to jog back toward his position. He was so nonchalant after making the eye-popping catch that his teammates in the dugout did not know he had the ball until he took it out of his glove.

"He's a showman," then-teammate Brad Miller joked after the game.

Not really.

Haseley, the quiet outfielder, denied any intentional theatrics.

"Honestly," he said when asked about his modest reaction to the highlight-reel catch, "I think I was in shock."

You'll see more of Haseley in the Phillies' outfield this season. He is likely to get reps in center field and left field when the season opens later this month.

Haseley, who turns 24 in April, was the Phillies' first-round draft pick in 2017 out of the University of Virginia. He made a quick trek to the majors, arriving last June after Andrew McCutchen went down with a season-ending knee injury.

Ideally, Haseley would have gotten some more time at Triple A, but the Phils needed him and he held his own, hitting .266 with five homers and 26 RBIs in 222 at-bats.

Haseley's OPS was just .720 last season and that should rise this season. He came to camp physically stronger this spring and that should help his extra-base pop. He's always displayed selectivity at the plate so his on-base percentage stands to improve from .324.

"In a perfect world, Adam would have spent more time in the minor leagues (in 2019)," general manager Matt Klentak said this winter. "But with McCutchen getting hurt, we felt it was the right time to be a little more aggressive. He had some ups and downs. It wasn't a perfect rookie season. But I think he gives a real good at-bat. He's got a very good idea of the strike zone — he had that as an amateur and he started to show it at the big-league level. I know his walk-to-strikeout totals weren't great but I think if you watch his at-bats, I think you can see he has that skill and as he starts to become more comfortable at this level we'll start to see that more and more.

"I was also impressed with his defense so I think when you look at the body of work over three months that he was in the big leagues, that's a pretty impressive rookie season and I think there's reason for optimism that he'll be better than that (in 2020).

"I think he's going to be a really good player."

Just don't ask him to boast about it.

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Phillies leadoff man Andrew McCutchen out for opening day

Phillies leadoff man Andrew McCutchen out for opening day

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The knee injury that cost Andrew McCutchen four months last season will cost him more time this season.

McCutchen, who had surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee on June 14, will open the season on the injured list, Phillies manager Joe Girardi announced on Friday afternoon.

Girardi's announcement came less than two weeks after McCutchen said it was his "plan" to be ready for opening day.

According to Girardi, McCutchen did not experience a setback and the club hopes to have him back sometime in April.

"The tests continue to improve," Girardi said. "He has made improvements as we've gone along. He continues to get better.

"But as we start to put it together, there's some things, some hurdles that he still has to clear, like cutting. We've seen him out there taking fly balls, we've seen him taking batting practice. But we haven't seen him run full speed.

"Opening day is awful early. It's March 26. I think that had he been ready for opening day it would have been pretty quick. He would have been on the short end of the rehab scale. But we don't expect it to be a real long time. Our thought process is we will get him sometime in April. If it was a normal year, the season used to start April 4th or 5th. But with a high-end athlete like him, he's just not quite ready to go."

McCutchen had already left the ballpark when Girardi made the announcement so he was not available for comment.

The news on McCutchen was not a complete surprise. Less than a month before opening day, he had yet to play in an exhibition game and had shown a limp in supervised outfield drills.

McCutchen's situation creates some camp competition as the Phillies look to fill his spot in left field. It's possible that Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn could both be in the opening day outfield, either in left field or center field. It's also possible that Jay Bruce could play some left field, though he's had elbow issues that impact his throwing. The Phils have two other outfielders, Nick Williams and Kyle Garlick, on the 40-man roster, and there are a host of non-roster players in camp who can play the outfield, including Josh Harrison, Phil Gosselin, Mikie Mahtook, Logan Forsythe, Nick Martini and Neil Walker.

The Phils will also have to fill McCutchen's leadoff spot. Quinn would seem to be a good bet there. Losing McCutchen from the leadoff spot was a huge blow to the Phils last season. He had a .378 on-base percentage, second-best in the majors among leadoff men, when he went down on June 3. Phillies leadoff men had a paltry .295 on-base percentage the rest of the season and that ranked 29th in baseball over that span.

McCutchen, 33, is signed through 2021 as part of a three-year, $50 million contract signed before the 2019 season. 

With McCutchen out, the Phillies will have a different opening day left fielder for the 10th time in as many years.

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