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Quinn passes first test in versatility quest

Phillies practice outfield shift; Abreu in camp as guest instructor @ToddZolecki

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies outfielder Roman Quinn grabbed his infielder's mitt and jogged to shortstop in the top of the sixth inning Thursday afternoon at Spectrum Field.

Then he stood there a while.

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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies outfielder Roman Quinn grabbed his infielder's mitt and jogged to shortstop in the top of the sixth inning Thursday afternoon at Spectrum Field.

Then he stood there a while.

View Full Game Coverage

Video: NYY@PHI: Quinn nabs Saez at first in the 9th

Quinn fielded only one ball, and it came in the ninth inning of a 6-4 loss to the Yankees. He caught the ball and threw low, but first baseman Nick Rickles scooped it up for the out. Consider it a small step forward for Quinn, who is trying to show his versatility this spring to make the Opening Day roster as a member of a four-man bench.

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"I made one play and didn't throw it away, so I'm happy," Quinn said, smiling.

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Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Quinn, who had not played shortstop since 2014 in the Minor Leagues, could see time at second base and third base before the end of Spring Training. Meanwhile, Quinn is impressing at the plate. He walked twice against the Yankees and hit an opposite-field home run on Tuesday.

"I thought he looked great," Kapler said. "Anxious to get him back out there and get him additional opportunities. I'd love to see 10 or 11 ground balls and then get a good assessment."

Shift, shift, shift

Phillies left fielder Rhys Hoskins moved from left field to right field each time Jacoby Ellsbury came to the plate, including the first plate appearance of the game, switching spots with right fielder Danny Ortiz. The Phillies are going to be aggressive in shifting their outfielders based on spray chart information and Kapler is making sure his players become accustomed to the moves in Spring Training.

"It's not an ambition to do it every day," Kapler said. "It's more, 'Do we have the right personnel?' We want to get people practice at it. We'd like to get everybody involved and everybody to swap positions so they know what it feels like. Even if it's a slow jog, it's still a little bit different."

Video: Abreu joins Phillies at Spring Training

Bobby's world

Former Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu might have been ahead of his time.

Abreu, 43, posted a .395 on-base percentage and an .870 OPS in his 18-year career, spending eight-plus seasons with the Phillies. In an organization that cherishes hitters that "control the strike zone," few in Phillies history worked a count better than Abreu, whose career is probably underrated compared to his peers. He certainly should be on the Phillies' Wall of Fame at some point.

Abreu is in camp this week as a guest instructor. He will spend the next week talking and working with Phillies hitters.

"I was looking always to be on base because I think when you get on base, no matter what, you can score," he said. "You can help the team when you're always on base. Even a walk, you can start to produce or start a rally that way.

"It was a natural ability with me. I felt so comfortable hitting with two strikes. It was really no problem with me. I wasn't afraid."

Video: NYY@PHI: Pivetta strikes out Drury swinging in 1st

Starters looking for two

Phillies starters have not completed two innings each of the past three games, but Kapler said he is not concerned.

Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta allowed one hit, one run and three walks while striking out two in 1 2/3 innings on Thursday vs. the Yankees. He struck out Brandon Drury on a 96-mph fastball in the first inning before surrendering a home run to Miguel Andujar on a 91-mph fastball in the second.

"I just went through an awesome conversation with Nick," Kapler said. "We're asking him to try some new things. And he has so much conviction going all in on those new things, elevating his fastball, landing his curveball at the bottom of the zone. He understands it's not going to happen in the first outing or the second outing. It's going to take a little bit of practice."

Camp battles

Right-hander Zach Eflin, who is competing for a job in the rotation, allowed three hits, two runs, one walk, two home runs and struck out three in 2 2/3 innings. He is competing for a job in the rotation. Non-roster invitee Francisco Rodriguez walked three and struck out one in two-thirds of an inning.

Up next: Odubel Herrera will be starting in center field for the Phillies in Friday afternoon's game against the Rays in Port Charlotte, Fla., which will be available via an exclusive audio webcast. Herrera has been bothered by a sore shoulder this spring. It will be his first action in the field. Right-hander Aaron Nola is scheduled to start. 

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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