The Phillies entered Monday's game with a collection of corner outfielders who batted .188 with a .506 OPS, and sometimes it is easy to forget this was not by design. So there was Aaron Altherr, in the clubhouse Monday afternoon for a brief moment with his teammates, as a reminder of what should have been.
Altherr, who tore the tendon sheath in his left wrist during spring training, was in Philadelphia for a few hours to see a doctor. The 25-year-old outfielder heard what he wanted: He can begin swinging a bat in two weeks.
The Phillies said Altherr would miss four to six months after he underwent surgery March 9. The surgeon told Altherr he'd likely begin to hit three months after the procedure.
"I might be a little ahead of schedule," Altherr said, "but really right on schedule."
It is impossible, of course, to count on Altherr this season. His injury, suffered when he dove for a ball in right field, is a complicated one. Given that he will just begin to swing a bat in late May, his return could be on the longer end of the original time line.
The Phillies envisioned Altherr, who impressed in a 39-game stint last season, as a possible power presence in the middle of the lineup. The production of the corner outfielders - and the lack of other options - is one of the feeble offense's most glaring flaws in 2016.
Cody Asche, who is playing for high-A Clearwater on a rehab assignment for a strained rib cage muscle, will be one potential replacement. Asche played his third minor-league game Monday; he will need the equivalent of a spring training before he returns. Asche has a career .693 OPS in the majors.
Altherr, who said he has been listening to every Phillies game on the radio, had his wrist cast removed last month.
"It was unbelievable," Altherr said. "I feel free."
The Phillies did not add an extra catcher Monday, which reflected their belief that Cameron Rupp will need just a day or two to rest his sore left ankle and knee until he returns. Rupp took some swings and played catch Monday.
There was "definitely progress," he said. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Rupp should be fine by Tuesday.
Andres Blanco or Emmanuel Burriss could catch if needed in an emergency situation, Mackanin said.
The Phillies released veteran catcher J.P. Arencibia, who had played sparingly at triple-A Lehigh Valley. Logan Moore, who had been at double-A Reading, will become Andrew Knapp's backup at Lehigh Valley. . . . Righthander Ben Lively won his second pitcher-of-the- week honors in the Eastern League. Lively, 24, has a 1.53 ERA with 46 strikeouts and 14 walks in 47 innings for double-A Reading.