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Kapler optimistic about outfielders' health

Hunter 'not concerned' by right flexor strain
@ToddZolecki
February 27, 2019

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies could use another outfielder right about now. They lost a couple of center fielders over the past couple weeks, when Odubel Herrera suffered a Grade 1 strain of his left hamstring the first week of camp, and when Roman Quinn suffered a “mild” strain of

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies could use another outfielder right about now.

They lost a couple of center fielders over the past couple weeks, when Odubel Herrera suffered a Grade 1 strain of his left hamstring the first week of camp, and when Roman Quinn suffered a “mild” strain of his right oblique taking swings in the batting cage Tuesday. The injuries might be a bigger topic of conversation in Phils camp, except the focus here remains on the team’s pursuit of free agent Bryce Harper.

“We’re really early in camp,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said about the injuries before Wednesday’s 4-2 loss against the Twins at Spectrum Field. “I’m optimistic that by the middle of camp, we may not be down a couple center fielders.”

Wait a second, Gabe. Are you saying ... ?

“No, no, no,” he said.

Kapler is not saying he expects the Phils to sign Harper. He is saying he does not think the injuries are serious enough to keep both players from the Opening Day roster. But Quinn, who had been scheduled for a MRI, has battled injuries throughout his professional baseball career. He cannot seem to stay healthy.

“I’ve lost the words,” Quinn said. “I put my body in position to work at a high level. The same thing just keeps happening.

“I did pretty much everything I could think of and talked to as many people that I could possibly talk to about adding weight and adding body fat and eating like this and eating like that, but it hasn’t worked out for me. Frustration is not even the word. I keep having setback after setback after setback. It’s frustrating, man. It’s really frustrating.”

Said Kapler: “We don’t have a lot of long-term concerns, but we want to get a better idea once we see the study.”

Hunter on the mend

Nobody knows if Tommy Hunter will be ready to pitch by Opening Day, but he said Wednesday he is not concerned about the Grade 1 flexor strain in his right arm.

“I have it pretty much every year, but I couldn’t man up through this one,” he said. “I’m not concerned. I don’t think anybody else is really concerned. I don’t think anyone is really behind at this point except me. We have an ample amount of people who are more than capable of playing baseball at a high level. I just hope to come back and help out the best that I can.”

Hunter, who might not begin throwing again until March 9, went 5-4 with a 3.80 ERA in 65 appearances, posting a 2.63 ERA in his final 24 appearances. He is in the final season of a two-year, $18 million contract.

If Hunter is not ready by Opening Day, the Phillies can shoulder the load. David Robertson, Seranthony Dominguez, Hector Neris, Hunter, Pat Neshek, Adam Morgan, Jose Alvarez and Juan Nicasio entered camp as favorites to fill out the Phils’ eight-man bullpen. If Hunter is out, Edubray Ramos, Victor Arano, Yacksiel Rios, James Pazos or Austin Davis could step into a role.

Twins 4, Phillies 2

Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen each had two hits in a Grapefruit League game called in the seventh inning because of rain.

J.T. Realmuto lifted a sac fly in the first and doubled and scored a run in the sixth.

• Left-hander Ranger Suarez struck out two but allowed two runs on two hits and one walk in two innings in his start.

Up next

Phillies right-hander Enyel De Los Santos starts Thursday afternoon’s split squad against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla. Right-hander Adonis Medina will start the split-squad game against the Orioles at Spectrum Field.

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