Aaron Altherr’s Emergence Giving Phillies Lineup Some Punch
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak expects to be without Howie Kendrick for the next 2-3 weeks with a oblique injury.
While at first glance, it might seem like a bad break for the Phillies with Kendrick getting off to a hot start, it’s actually been a blessing with Aaron Altherr getting an extended chance to play.
While Kendrick was sporting a cool .333 batting average through his first 10 games, the Phillies might be looking for a spot to play Altherr, who started the season as Philadelphia’s fourth outfielder if he keeps swinging a hot bat. So with Kendrick nursing his oblique issue, Altherr has stepped in hitting .364 with two homers and six RBI in 12 games, but how will they handle Altherr's playing time when Kendrick is ready to return?
Altherr was looking like the Phillies full-time right fielder before the team signed Michael Saunders. He had a very impressive spring, clubbing four homers, and that’s not the whole story, Altherr is the best defensive outfielder on the team. Manager Pete Mackanin is going to have to think real hard about taking both Altherr's bat and glove out of the lineup.
When Kendrick is back in the starting lineup the answer about where to play Altherr will get a little harder for Mackanin, but he should have plenty of opportunities to play him. The versatile Altherr can play all three outfield positions, and could form a platoon with Saunders, who signed a $9 million deal this offseason, but is struggling out of the gates hitting just .259, with zero home runs.
Either way, it will be very difficult for Mackanin to keep Altherr on the bench if he continues to hit.