SAN FRANCISCO — The Phillies took batting practice Friday evening, but Odubel Herrera did not move much. He stayed anchored to a spot in short center field at AT&T Park. Juan Samuel was tethered to him. The two men watched from there.
Herrera, a few minutes after batting practice ended, went on the disabled list for the first time in his career.
“I’m definitely surprised,” Herrera said through a team interpreter. “I thought it was going to be something quick. It is what it is and hopefully I’ll recover sooner rather than later.”
Herrera had been reduced to a mere observer for the previous three games because of an injured left hamstring. The Phillies have missed him. He is eligible to be activated Aug. 25.
The Phillies delayed a decision on Herrera until Friday for a few reasons. One, they have a full bench and bullpen contingent right now, so there was no rush. The other part of the equation is this: The Phillies do not have an obvious roster replacement for Herrera. They did not immediately announce a corresponding move. The team played Friday with 24 men.
They plan to summon Ben Lively, who will now start Sunday’s game, from triple-A Lehigh Valley. That will push Mark Leiter Jr. back to the bullpen.
There were other options. The two healthy position players on the 40-man roster who are not in the majors are Brock Stassi and Dylan Cozens. Stassi could return in September for bench depth. Cozens, 23, was ticketed for a September promotion but is stuck in a prolonged slump at triple-A Lehigh Valley. He had two hits, including a double, Friday night. That made him 10 for his last 84 at-bats with 43 strikeouts and just two extra-base hits since July 20.
Cozens could still reach the majors sometime in September. But his lack of production in recent weeks will add pause.
The Phillies have a full 40-man roster, but they could trim from it. Andrew Pullin, who raked at double-A Reading but has cooled down at triple A, could come as a bench bat. Carlos Tocci was just promoted to triple A and could earn a look later this season. Both Pullin and Tocci are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft this winter. Both project as extra outfielders in the majors.
But, really, they would like to just have Herrera. He extended his hitting streak to 17 games — the longest streak for a Phillies batter since Raul Ibanez in 2010 — before he was hurt. Herrera has hit .383 with a .450 on-base percentage and .692 slugging percentage since the All-Star break. Those numbers ranked second, third and sixth in the National League entering the weekend.
He has salvaged his season — and more.
“Quite a bit,” Mackanin said. “He’s been very consistent over the last six weeks or so. I’ve talked about having a set lineup as much as I can. [Aaron] Altherr’s out. He’s out. It makes it more difficult.”
Herrera said the DL decision was made to not prolong the hamstring problem.
“To be honest with you, I think I could play, but I don’t want to force it,” Herrera said. “I think we should play it safe. We don’t want me to go back on the field and then have something happen. I want to be 100 percent sure that I can go out there and perform the way I know I can.”
Perhaps the player who has lost the most in the constant roster shuffle is Roman Quinn, who has not played at triple A since May 28. He suffered a ligament injury to his left (non-throwing) elbow and has not returned to action. He has been at the team’s complex in Florida attempting a comeback in 2017. There is an outside shot that Quinn could reach the majors in September even if he misses the end of the minor-league season. The Phillies will look to find at-bats for him in winter ball.
Quinn’s future could be as a bench player, albeit a valuable one, because his frequent injuries lower the odds of him filling an everyday role. Mackanin thought about Quinn in the ninth inning of Thursday’s loss. He could have pinch-hit or pinch-run as the tying run and, with his speed, made things interesting.
“This is where a guy like Roman Quinn is valuable,” Mackanin told his bench coach, Larry Bowa.
Maybe, in 2018, the Phillies can test that thought.
Sixto Sanchez allowed two runs on five singles in six innings Friday for high-A Clearwater. He struck out six and walked none. It was the 19-year-old righthander’s best start since being promoted; he has a 5.00 ERA in three outings there. … Jerad Eickhoff pitches Saturday night against another Giants lefthander, Ty Blach.