ATLANTA — Roman Quinn slashed a sinking liner to left. It smacked Mallex Smith and rolled a few feet from the Braves left fielder. Quinn scurried to second for a double. He did not stand there for long. On the second pitch, he scampered toward third. He beat the throw that skipped into left field, and Quinn's legs had carried him around the bases like that in the second inning of a 7-6 Phillies loss.
But this is not how Quinn's 15-game big-league tryout will be remembered. Instead, Quinn succumbed again to injury, this time a strained rib-cage muscle. With five remaining games, his season is probably over.
"It's frustrating," Quinn said. "It's never good news."
The Phillies are left with a bitter taste; Quinn impressed them with his on-base skills and game-changing speed. But the 23-year-old outfielder is so brittle that a career as a major-league regular is hard to foresee.
The injury is the same he had earlier this season while in the minors. It cost him more than six weeks of action. Add it to the list of maladies in recent seasons: a ruptured Achilles, a fractured wrist, a strained quadriceps, a concussion.
Quinn, in 69 plate appearances, posted a .263 batting average with a .373 on-base percentage and .364 slugging percentage. The Phillies will know Wednesday if he can return.
They lost Tuesday because Quinn was not in the game and a confluence of misfortune forced Darin Ruf into left field. Tyler Goeddel, a solid defensive player, is sidelined by a concussion. And Peter Bourjos, one of the surest fielders on the roster, departed the team to be with his wife for the birth of their child. Cody Asche had already pinch-hit.
So it was either Ruf or Jimmy Paredes, both of whom are below-average defenders, to replace Quinn. Mackanin chose Ruf.
Braves catcher Tyler Flowers, with the game in the balance after midnight, crushed a high fly to the warning track in left. Ruf tracked the ball, but at the last minute, he pulled his arm back toward his torso, as if he was afraid to strike the wall. The ball bounced on the dirt and put the decisive runs in scoring position.
"It should have been caught," Mackanin said. "If Quinn's out there, he catches it. He wasn't out there."
The bullpen has an 8.03 ERA in September (69 earned runs in 77 1/3 innings). Mackanin held Hector Neris for the potential save in the ninth and relied upon Joely Rodriguez and David Hernandez in the eighth. The manager did not have rookie Edubray Ramos, who was unavailable with what Mackanin deemed "a minor" elbow issue.
Mackanin said it all cannot fall to Neris, whose 77 appearances are tied for third-most in baseball.