Broken toe will cost Schierholtz important audition time

Outfielder Nate Schierholtz has been placed on the 15-day DL with a broken toe. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

MIAMI — That Nate Schierholtz suffered a broken toe Sunday does not have any immediate bearing on the fourth-place Phillies. They will have to shuffle an already-thin infield for the season's remaining six weeks. It just means playing time for others.

However, it certainly hurts Schierholtz's chance for an everyday job in 2013.

Chances are the Phillies did not see anything in his 37 plate appearances that guaranteed him a spot or precluded him from one. They were eager for a two-month look at Schierholtz, who wanted an escape from San Francisco, where he believed he was cast forever as a part-time player.

Instead, it's possible only 11 games are what the Phillies will see before heading into the winter with myriad outfield decisions to make.

Schierholtz was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday as Hector Luna was recalled from triple A. The injury, depending on its severity, could end his season. If it requires surgery, it obviously will keep him from playing again in 2012. Ryan Madson broke his right big toe in 2010 and needed surgery that kept him sidelined for 70 days.

It's unclear whether Schierholtz needs surgery.

Other instances of the injury could have him back anywhere from 15 days to six weeks. Erick Aybar suffered a hairline fracture of his big toe earlier in 2012 and the Los Angeles infielder missed 15 days. Tampa Bay infielder Jeff Keppinger missed 34 days with a broken toe earlier in the season. And Cardinals reliever Edward Mujica missed 18 days with a fractured toe.

The Phillies, already faced with a dearth of outfield options, must reshuffle again. It's possible Domonic Brown shifts from left to right on a regular basis with Juan Pierre and Laynce Nix splitting time in left. The injury also effectively leaves Michael Martinez as the lone backup centerfielder to John Mayberry Jr.

The only other outfielder on the 40-man roster is Tyson Gillies, who is hitting .293 with an .812 OPS for double-A Reading. He, of course, has played in only 47 games because of injuries and suspensions. But the Phillies could opt to take a look at him in September when rosters expand.

Another possibility is 26-year-old Darin Ruf, who is mashing Eastern League pitching for Reading. Ruf has hit 25 home runs, which ranks ninth among all minor-league players in 2012. But he has played only 14 games in the oufield this season, and it is his first try at learning the position.

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