READING - Roman Quinn's first double-A start in right field last week ended with his throwing out three baserunners. That position, Quinn joked afterward with Reading manager Dusty Wathan, is now his favorite.
Quinn - who had converted two years ago from shortstop to centerfielder - is learning how to play left and right fields as the Phillies look to add versatility to his game. He could head to the majors in September, when rosters expand.
The Phillies already have two players vying for time in center.
"You'd hate for a guy to go up there and not have the opportunity to have played left and right field," Wathan said. "If he gets up there and Pete Mackanin wants to put him in left late in a game or something, then we want to make sure we covered all of our bases before he gets up there."
Quinn, 23, was just beginning his education in the corner outfield positions when he went down in June with a strained muscle in his side. It is the fourth straight season in which Quinn has missed time because of injury. He has yet to play a full minor-league season. He could end up being a fourth outfielder, and that is why adding versatility is so important. Quinn said he feels comfortable in left and right field. It's the same as playing center, he said.
No one doubts Quinn's talent. Wathan said he is a special player who changes the dynamic of the game with his speed. His presence on the base paths allows the other batters to see more fastballs. But he has not been durable. The strained muscle joins a broken wrist, torn Achilles, and torn hip flexor. It is bad luck, Quinn said.
"The last thing I needed was another setback and getting taken off the track that I was on," Quinn said. "It seems like every time I'm starting to swing it well and get it figured out, I end up getting hurt and it sets me back again. It's like starting all over again."
Quinn was batting .288 on June 4 when he strained his oblique on a checked swing. He felt a pop in the upper part of his ribs, but thought it would go away. He went to first base, but the speedster had trouble running from first to third. That's when he knew something was wrong.
Quinn returned 10 days later, but the injury was not healed. He ended up missing almost two months. Quinn was batting .306 last June when he tore his left hip flexor trying to beat out a bunt.
His injuries have been freakish and there's not much you can do to prevent them.
"You definitely feel for him," Wathan said. "You add up all the days missed and it has to be a year if not more. You always hope that the last injury is the last one. You say, 'Well, maybe that's the last one.' He's done everything he can off the field as far as keeping himself in shape, doing all the prep work and stuff. Hopefully it's just one of those things, where he's a young guy and he's a little bit tight. As the years go by, maybe he'll get a little bit looser and hopefully he's over the hump."
Quinn is already on the Phillies' 40-man roster, so a promotion to the majors in September would not require any additional moves or roster crunching. It would allow the Phillies the opportunity to see the player who dazzled the front office during spring training. It would even give Quinn the chance to test out his arm in right field and see if that is still his favorite position.
"It would mean everything to me. My ultimate goal is to get to the big leagues," Quinn said. "But if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. If it does happen, then I'll be happy."