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Quinn, Hunter expected back in April

@ToddZolecki
March 28, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies will open the season without outfielder Roman Quinn and right-hander Tommy Hunter, but both are expected to rejoin the team in April. Quinn has been sidelined with a strained right oblique. He has played the past couple of days in Minor League games in Clearwater, Fla.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies will open the season without outfielder Roman Quinn and right-hander Tommy Hunter, but both are expected to rejoin the team in April.

Quinn has been sidelined with a strained right oblique. He has played the past couple of days in Minor League games in Clearwater, Fla. He has played four innings and had two plate appearances in each game. Manager Gabe Kapler said Quinn could rejoin the team sometime in mid-April. Once Quinn is ready, the Phillies have to make a decision about their bench. Both Quinn and Aaron Altherr are out of options. Nick Williams has options, but the Phillies like him as a left-handed weapon late in games.

"He feels good, he's come out strong," Kapler said about Quinn.

Hunter has been out with a strained flexor in his right arm. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Friday.

"I'm expecting my phone to buzz the first time he gets into a Minor League game so he can tell us he's ready," Kapler said. "We're going to probably look to build him up a little bit more slowly. We definitely want to have a reasonable ramp so when Tommy gets back to Philadelphia he's prepared to take down, not just one batter at a time or two batters at a time, but one of the things that makes him great is the flexibility to go through left and right and maybe go back out for an additional batter. We want him to be ready to take down any situation."

Mid-April for Hunter might be optimistic, but he could be ready after that.

Kapler defends Odubel

An anonymous scout took a couple cheap shots at Phillies center fielder Odúbel Herrera in the most recent edition of Sports Illustrated.

The scout called Herrera a "dog" and "clown."

Herrera posted a combined 10.5 WAR from 2015-17, making him the 48th most productive player in baseball, according to Baseball Reference. But after a scintillating start last season, he struggled offensively and defensively the final four months, posting a career-low 0.2 WAR. Kapler opened the spring saying Herrera will have to earn his playing time in center field. Herrera said he learned from his mistakes and has matured.

"This is a guy who's misunderstood," Kapler said. "He works really hard. He's learning how to work and to increase his volume of work. He's learning how to be a focused present athlete. It ebbs and flows as he develops, but there's no shortage of care from Odubel and there's no shortage of work -- and there's no shortage of willingness to dig in.

"My experience of Odubel is we're all still learning him. He's got a lot of work to do, but he's consistently been up for the challenge and he's never shied away from a tough conversation where we've raised the bar for him and asked a little bit more from him."

Vinny Velo

Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez will be available in the Phillies' bullpen beginning Saturday. The Phillies do not play Friday, Monday and Thursday, meaning they do not need a fifth starter until the second week of April.

Kapler said Velasquez will make his first start April 8 against the Nationals.

Welcome to the club, Jak!

Jake Arrieta has a National League Cy Young Award and a World Series championship ring, but he showed up to Citizens Bank Park earlier this week with "Jak Arrieta" on the nameplate above his locker.

Arrieta joked about it on Instagram, and Phillies ace Aaron Nola and Arrieta sported red "Jak Arrieta" T-shirts before Thursday's game.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .