Phillies choose Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn for last two roster spots, send Odúbel Herrera to Lehigh Valley
But regardless of Monday’s decision, manager Joe Girardi will continue to evaluate the center-field situation.
Joe Girardi went from a folding chair next to the Phillies’ dugout into a meeting with the front office, making a pit stop for a Zoom news conference to tell reporters only that a decision had not yet been made about the odd-man out – Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn, or Odúbel Herrera – on the opening-day roster.
And then, for about an hour Monday evening before the Phillies hopped on a flight out of Clearwater, Fla., the suspense built.
Ultimately, the Phillies announced that Haseley and Quinn were the big winners. Herrera, whose candidacy for the center-field job was controversial given his 2019 arrest on domestic violence charges and subsequent suspension by Major League Baseball, will open the season at the team’s alternate training site in Lehigh Valley.
Quinn appeared to have a leg up, albeit only slightly, by virtue of being a switch-hitter. (Haseley and Herrera bat from the left side.) With lefty Max Fried scheduled to start for the Atlanta Braves on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park, a betting man might even put his money on Quinn being the opening-day center fielder.
“Yeah, and the speed element as well factors in,” Girardi said, strongly hinting that Quinn had made the team. “It used to be a 25-man roster; it’s now a 26-man roster. So, yeah, it does factor in, for sure.”
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Haseley likely edged Herrera for two reasons. First, he went 4-for-12 with a double in four games upon returning from a 19-day absence with a groin strain. A two-hit game in Monday’s spring-training finale against the Toronto Blue Jays may have clinched it.
“He swung the bat pretty good this last week,” Girardi said. “It’s good to see.”
Equally significant, however, is that Herrera needed to do more than the others to win a spot. He isn’t on the 40-man roster, and with the Phillies already having to clear space this week to put non-roster outfielder Matt Joyce and utilityman Ronald Torreyes on the team, he needed to move the needle with a strong spring training.
It wasn’t enough, then, that Herrera tied Bryce Harper for the team-lead with four Grapefruit League home runs. He went only 12-for-52 (.231) with a .245 on-base percentage and .726 OPS in 17 games, and exhibited the inconsistency that you would expect from someone who went 646 days between his last major-league appearance and his spring-training debut this year.
Based purely on exhibition games, there was no clear winner. But the only obvious loser was Scott Kingery, who struck out in nearly 40% of his plate appearances and got demoted Sunday to the alternate site.
Quinn struggled early with eight strikeouts in his first 17 at-bats but made more consistent contact as the spring went on, even buying into the Phillies’ desire for him to leverage his track-star speed by bunting. Haseley came on at the end after returning to the lineup.
Girardi reiterated Monday that he didn’t take Herrera’s off-field issues – or the potential backlash from fans who might have objected to him making the team – into consideration. Once again, Girardi cited MLB’s joint agreement with the Players’ Association that prevents teams from further punishing a player who has served a suspension for domestic assault. Herrera served an 85-game suspension in 2019 and was removed from the Phillies’ 40-man roster, but not released, in January 2020.
“You’re really supposed to take who you feel is going to do the best,” Girardi said. “You can’t really keep a player from being in the big leagues because of how some people might feel. People are allowed to have their feelings. Those are their feelings. And I understand that.
“But Odúbel paid a hefty price. Some people are going to think it was enough, some people are going to think it wasn’t enough. I can’t really control that. And I’m not trying to be disrespectful or say that I don’t care how people feel because I do. But we have to make a decision based on what’s presented in front of us.”
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Asked if ownership gave its blessing to put Herrera on the team if Girardi, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld deemed him worthy, Girardi deferred.
“That’s probably not a question for me to answer,” he said. “That’s probably a question above my level.”
But regardless of Monday’s decision, Girardi will continue to evaluate the center-field situation. Phillies center fielders combined for a .637 OPS last season, 12th in the National League and 26th in the majors. Quinn and Haseley combined for 82% of the team’s center-field plate appearances.
If either of them struggles to start the season, Kingery and Herrera are a phone call away.
“You look at the player that you think is going to provide the most productivity,” Girardi said. “This level, we’re in the business of production. We’re not trying to develop people. Is there some development that takes place in the big-league level? Absolutely. But it comes down to production.”