SAN DIEGO – Phillies center fielder Andrew McCutchen replayed the play that ended his season countless times Tuesday.
It came with countless questions.
“What could I have done different? What should have I done different?” McCutchen said Tuesday afternoon at Petco Park. “At the end of the day, there’s nothing I can do to change it.”
McCutchen tore the ACL in his left knee trying to avoid a tag in a rundown in the first inning Monday night in a loss to San Diego. He left the ballpark that night on crutches hoping for the best, but perhaps expecting the worst. He asked for prayers on his behalf via Twitter, hoping an MRI exam Tuesday would reveal something far less serious than a ligament tear. It did not.
McCutchen had played no fewer than 146 games with no fewer than 648 plate appearances in each of the past nine seasons. He had been on the injured list only once. Now he hopes to be ready by Opening Day 2020, although he cannot be certain until he has surgery and starts his rehab. Surgery has not been scheduled yet.
“I always took pride in being on the field and playing, averaging 150 games and being that guy who is built 'Ford tough,'” he said. “To have this happen, it sucks.
“I think the surgery will go well, I’ll heal up and have the right team around me to get me back. I’m not the only 32-year-old who has had to deal with this. There have been plenty of guys who have had worse injuries than I have and have come back even stronger. Look at Drew Brees. He’s a good example. It’s possible. You just have to believe and trust the people who are helping me try to get back on the field.”
McCutchen’s injury leaves a tremendous void in the Phillies’ lineup, outfield and clubhouse. He had batted .256 with 10 home runs, 29 RBIs and an .834 OPS. He had been the team’s only experienced center fielder, with Odubel Herrera on administrative leave, Roman Quinn injured and Aaron Altherr no longer with the organization.
“Andrew has not just been a catalyst at the top of our lineup, but a catalyst in our clubhouse, somebody that everybody under that roof respects greatly,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said.
The Phillies promoted Triple-A Lehigh Valley outfielder Adam Haseley, whom they selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 Draft, to take his place on the 25-man roster. They placed right-hander Victor Arano on the 60-day injured list to make room for Haseley on the 40-man roster.
Haseley, the club's No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, made his big league debut Tuesday, batting eighth and playing center field. The Phillies plan to move forward with Haseley and Scott Kingery in center field, although Haseley will get the majority of playing time there. Kingery is expected to play more regularly at third base.
Jay Bruce will play regularly in left field, although Haseley could see action there on days when Kingery is in center. Maikel Franco and Sean Rodriguez will also see action based on matchups.
A source said Tuesday that the Phillies are not immediately searching for more outfield help following the McCutchen news. The team plans to use the next several weeks to see what they have with Haseley and Bruce. If they find they are lacking in the outfield they can adjust and try to make a move in July. But if Haseley and Bruce provide the Phillies what they need, they can focus their efforts and assets elsewhere.
“The way I envision it right now is when there’s a right-handed pitcher on the mound, and I’m not saying this for every right-handed pitcher, Adam will play center and Jay will play left,” Kapler said. “That doesn’t mean that we won’t have Scott out there from time to time. That doesn’t mean we don’t reserve the right to change our minds on that. But that’s where we are currently. Scott will get a look at third base for a little bit.”
Haseley opened the season with Double-A Reading but got promoted just last week to Triple-A. He played his first game for the IronPigs on Wednesday. After a slow April, Haseley batted .333 with eight doubles, one triple, five home runs, 12 RBIs and a .954 OPS in his last 30 games.
“It’s just kind of crazy what’s happened the last couple weeks,” Haseley said. “I was in Reading a week ago, just playing a regular-season game. Just how fast things can happen. It’s been crazy.”
So what makes Haseley think he can rise to the occasion? This is not a rebuilding team looking to get a top prospect some experience. This is a team with postseason aspirations that just lost a former MVP and All-Star looking for a top prospect to help them make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
“I rely on my faith a lot,” Haseley said. “I trust in that. I trust in my routine and how I prepare for games. I’m just going to go for it, the best I can, as far as I can. Let the results be what they are and just trust that they have you here for a reason.”