Jay Bruce suffered the same injury in the span of two weeks, but the Phillies expect the slugger to return this month and provide a needed power bat for the stretch run.
Bruce, who is on the injured list after reinjuring his left quadriceps, is progressing at the team’s alternate site in Allentown and was scheduled to take batting practice on Thursday afternoon. Bruce can return as early as next Tuesday.
Without him, the team’s outfield depth has been tested as the Phillies have three outfielders — Bruce, Roman Quinn, and Scott Kingery — on the injured list.
“We think we’ll get him before the season’s over for sure. That’s our feeling,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Now could he have a setback? Yeah. But as he’s progressing now, we feel that we’ll get him before the season’s done.”
Girardi was able to slide Bruce into the lineup as a designated hitter or in either left or right field, which would give Andrew McCutchen or Bryce Harper a day off their feet. But now his lineup construction is being tested. The Phillies began a seven-game series in Miami with just four active outfielders and Girardi used backup catcher Andrew Knapp as his designated hitter.
Bruce is averaging a home run every 12.5 plate appearances since joining the Phillies last summer. He has had trouble staying healthy, but Bruce’s power can be game-changing when he’s in the lineup. And the Phillies need that bat as they chase a playoff spot in the final weeks of a 60-game season.
“We miss Jay and we need to get him back as soon as possible,” Girardi said.
Jose Alvarez will miss the rest of the regular season but could return for the playoffs if the Phillies make the postseason for the first time since 2011.
The left-handed reliever is on the injured list with a testicular contusion after being hit by a 105-mph line drive on Aug. 20. Girardi said Alvarez was cleared this week to do “light activity.” Alvarez was the team’s most reliable reliever and allowed a run this season in just one of his eight appearances.
Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker, who both started their careers in Pittsburgh, wore No. 21 on Thursday as the Phillies celebrated Roberto Clemente Day. Other players wore patches with Clemente’s No. 21 on their sleeves.
Walker’s father, Tom, was supposed to be with Clemente on the plane that crashed en route to bringing supplies to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua. But Clemente told Tom Walker, who played winter ball in 1972 in Puerto Rico, to stay behind and enjoy New Year’s Eve after they loaded up the plane. Walker left the airport, returned to his apartment, and learned that Clemente had died.
Neil Walker grew up just outside Pittsburgh and said he owes his life to Clemente.