The Phillies got the green light they’d been waiting for on Monday afternoon, when shortstop Didi Gregorius, who had been sidelined with a left hand contusion, took batting practice at Citizens Bank Park.
Gregorius, who has been taking swings over the past few days, said afterward he felt he had been trending in the right direction. But after hitting on Monday, he finally felt ready to get back into a big-league game. He could be back in the lineup as soon as Tuesday for the second game of their series against the Rockies.
» READ MORE: Phillies send top prospect Bryson Stott to triple A
With their starting shortstop back, the Phillies now have three solid infield options in Johan Camargo, Alec Bohm and Gregorius. Getting rookie infielder Bryson Stott at-bats was difficult for manager Joe Girardi even when Gregorius was sidelined. It was only going to get more difficult with Gregorius back in the lineup. So, shortly after Gregorius’ BP session, the Phillies announced that they’d optioned Stott to triple-A Lehigh Valley, and selected the contract of outfielder Roman Quinn. Left-handed pitcher Ryan Sherriff was transferred to the 60-day injured list.
It wasn’t that long ago that Stott was seen as a candidate for a starting job at shortstop or third base. But Bohm, after making three errors in game, has emerged as one of the Phillies’ most consistent hitters, and has made marked improvements in his defense. Girardi has said Camargo is their best defensive third baseman right now, but the utility man has looked smooth across the infield, and is slugging .462 over his last seven games.
“To Didi and Camargo and Bohm’s credit, they’ve all created this good problem to have,” said Phillies general manager Sam Fuld. “They’ve performed well. We knew we could have a situation like this one. That’s why you continually monitor it, and again, juggle those two criteria and we felt this was the time to do it. But obviously, this doesn’t happen without Bohm and Camargo and Didi’s performance.”
The addition of Quinn, a speedy center fielder who has hit .228/.306/.355 over parts of five seasons with the Phillies, gives the Phillies flexibility in center field and at the DH spot, whenever Bryce Harper returns to right field. Matt Vierling and Odúbel Herrera are splitting time at center field, but Fuld said Quinn gives them more options.
“Much like a lot of what we do it’ll be monitoring, and Joe will ultimately make the decision there,” Fuld said of the Vierling/Herrera platoon. “Joe’s aware of Roman’s abilities, and it’s exciting to get a guy like that to help us in a lot of different ways, including playing center.
“We’ve all seen the ability to impact the game that Roman has. One, he’s shown that he’s healthy and back to the elite athlete that he was coming off of this injury. And we have as much confidence that he can impact the game with his legs in the same capacity as previous years. So, if it’s pinch run, if it’s defensive replacement, it’s obviously a versatile bat with switch-hitting. There are a lot of ways that he can impact us, especially late in games, with the DH spot. You just get a little bit more flexibility to use a guy with Roman’s skill set.”
The Phillies designated Quinn for assignment in November, but signed him to a minor-league contract in April. He has a lengthy injury history, which includes a left achilles injury he suffered last year, and a laceration of his right index finger earlier that same month. But the Phillies see some upside if he can stay healthy.
“When we made the decision to non-tender him I think there was communication with him that we’d retain interest,” Fuld said. “We like Roman as a human, we think he’s a great human, and we’ve obviously witnessed his ability to help us win games. So the interest remained, and I think he knew that. It just wasn’t necessary explicit at the time.”
Update on Harper
Harper, who has made eight consecutive starts at DH after he was diagnosed with an elbow strain, will take some throws on Tuesday. Girardi said they won’t be at a high intensity; Harper will start at a shorter distance, see how it feels and gradually increase over time. Girardi said on Sunday that it’s unlikely Harper will return to right field this week.