CINCINNATI – A red long-sleeve top with No. 24 stitched on the sleeve hung in the Phillies clubhouse Friday afternoon, and Roman Quinn, after yet another injury, was back in the major leagues.
Quinn had been thinking about this moment as he spent day after day over the last two months in the Florida heat rehabbing his hand injury. Gabe Kapler had been thinking about this moment and how he would best utilize Quinn ever since he was hired to be the manager. The moment, for Quinn and Kapler, has arrived.
"I think it's fair to say that nobody has a weapon like this off the bench. I think he's a fairly unique commodity in baseball," Kapler said. "I'm not sure there is a bench option like Roman Quinn. Because he's an 80 runner, so there's really no one who's a whole lot faster, if there are those who are faster. He switch-hits, he plays the infield, he plays the outfield. He's a pretty unique weapon."
Kapler will use his weapon mostly in a reserve role, inserting Quinn as a runner or hitter when the Phillies feel the best situation arises. Quinn's usage, Kapler said, will be similar to the way Kapler manages his bullpen, as he places Seranthony Dominguez into situations based on leverage and not inning.
"We won't save him as a bullet," Kapler said. "It's not like, 'Let's wait for the perfect time to deploy him as a pinch-runner. Let's wait for the eighth or ninth inning.' No. If he's the right guy in the sixth inning, we'll use him in the sixth inning."
Quinn would have joined the Phillies earlier this season had he not suffered a torn ligament in his right middle finger. He suffered the injury during spring training when he slid into a base but tried to play through it, thinking he just jammed his finger. Two months later, he tried to make a throw at triple A and felt tingling in his arm and knew something was wrong.
His career has been marred by injuries — Quinn has yet to play a full season since the Phillies drafted him in 2011. A spot on the bench could be the best way to keep Quinn healthy and utilize his game-changing speed.
"Whatever role I need to play to help the team win I will do it to the best of my ability," Quinn said. "If that's coming off the bench, if it's starting every day I'm going to start. Whatever the team needs me to do I'm going to do."
Quinn arrived Friday morning in Cincinnati. He had returned to the field just eight days earlier and didn't think he would be in the majors so soon. But the Phillies had to be aggressive as they sit in first place with a punchless bench.
Before Quinn saw the uniform top hanging in his locker, he stopped by Kapler's office to check in. Kapler had texted him often over the last two months to monitor Quinn's recovery and make sure his "unique weapon" was sharp. And now the manager wants to make sure Quinn stays healthy.
"I shared the same thing with him that I did in spring training, which was 'This is going to require a lot of honesty and openness. If anything is bothering you, we don't need heroics. What we need is for you to come and say 'This is bothering me,' " Kapler said. "If there's anything we can do to help you recover better, whether that be technology or a nutrition plan, we're here to provide that for you. Beyond that, there's some chance to it. The injury earlier was kind of a freak injury. Those happen. But we never want to look back and say 'We could've done this and we didn't.' "
The Phillies placed Adam Morgan on the paternity list and promoted righthander Yacksel Rios from triple A…Vince Velasquez will start Saturday against former Mets righthander Matt Harvey.