ATLANTA — Nearly four months late, Aaron Altherr is finally getting his shot to show the Phillies he deserves to be part of their future outfield plans.
Altherr, 25, was activated from the disabled list before Thursday night’s game against the Braves and was in the lineup, batting fifth (see story). Altherr will see a lot of playing time over the final two-plus months of the season. He’s essentially auditioning.
“We want to see him play as much as possible,” manager Pete Mackanin said before the game. “So if he stays healthy, I’m going to keep running him out there. That’s what this year is all about. We’re finding out about the guys that are here. He is a potentially important part so we want to see what he does. I’m anxious to see what he does.”
Altherr, a ninth-round draft pick in 2009, played in 39 games for the Phillies last season. He hit just .241, but 20 of his 33 hits were for extra bases and he had a .827 OPS. He was slated to be the team’s everyday rightfielder before suffering a wrist injury that required surgery early in spring training.
Altherr is healthy now and eager for his chance.
“I’m good to go mentally and physically,” he said Thursday afternoon. “I’m definitely excited to be back up.”
Altherr took Peter Bourjos' spot on the roster. Bourjos was placed on the disabled list with a sprained right shoulder two days after running into the outfield wall in Miami.
With Mackanin committed to giving Altherr playing time, it will be interesting to see how the skipper divides up playing time with the remaining outfielders, especially when Bourjos recovers. Bourjos was a trade candidate before his injury. He could still be moved in a waiver deal once he’s healthy in August. Tyler Goeddel, Cody Asche and Jimmy Paredes also play corner outfield spots and much heralded prospect Nick Williams is expected to be here at some point (see Future Phillies Report).
Asche is walking a tightrope. He entered Thursday night’s game mired in a 4-for-51 skid and Mackanin seems to be losing patience.
“As I said earlier in the season, this is a very big year for Cody to prove that he can be part of the future and he needs to step it up,” Mackanin said.