Injuries have already started to pop up for the Phillies in Clearwater. First – and most severe – was veteran utility player Sean Rodriguez, who tore a meniscus and a knee sprain on Tuesday. It’s possible that Rodriguez will need surgery to repair the injury and he’s going to need a long rehab time until he would be available.
Another potential utility player, Gift Ngoepe, who has an uphill fight for a roster spot, has yet to report to camp because of a delay in getting his VISA to enter the country.
With Rodriguez down and Ngoepe still not in camp, the Phillies re-signed Trevor Plouffe, who played in seven games with the Phillies last season. One of those games, a 16 inning affair with the Dodgers, ended when Plouffe hit a walk-off home run against utility player Enrique Hernandez, who came on to pitch after LA burned through eight pitchers. Plouffe lost his roster spot when the Phillies acquired LHP Aaron Loup. Plouffe then played out the rest of the season with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. In all or part of nine seasons, Plouffe has played in 830 major league games with the Twins, A’s, Rays and Phillies. His MLB line stands at 106-379-.242/.304/.410 and he has played all four infield positions and both corner outfield positions in the majors.
Of more concern was the injury that center fielder Odubel Herrera suffered what was termed as a “tight” hamstring while doing baserunning drills on Wednesday. The injury turned out to not be quite as serious as first thought and Herrera was taking BP and doing long toss on Thursday. There is no exact timetable on when he will return to full baseball duties in camp, but it’s unlikely that he will play this weekend.
The big buzz in camp still surrounds Bryce Harper and his potential to sign with the Phillies. The arrival of Harper could throw a bomb into the Phillies outfield plans. The way things stand now, Andrew McCutchen appears to be the only outfielder written into the opening day lineup in ink. Herrera and Roman Quinn will fight for center field playing time. If Harper does sign, Nick Williams would appear to be most affected. Williams spot isn’t exactly secure right now, as he battles with Aaron Altherr for a starting job. Dylan Cozens is lurking around waiting for a spot, but odds are that he winds up back at Lehigh Valley.
The Phillies set their lineup for their Grapefruit League opener against Tampa Bay and it goes like this:
Cole Irvin will be Friday’s starter, with Enyel De Los Santos pitching Saturday in Clearwater against the Pirates. The Phillies play a home-and-home set of games against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday and Monday, with Drew Anderson and JoJo Romero pitching the two games. On Tuesday, the Phillies and Yankees meet for the first time this spring, with Ranger Suarez starting for Philadelphia.