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March 21, 2016

Herrera remains out, but vows return this week

Before the Phillies boarded the bus to Lakeland, where they’ll play the Detroit Tigers this afternoon, Odubel Herrera was bouncing around the clubhouse per usual, with headphones around his neck and his perma-smile on his face.

He did not look like a man concerned that Opening Day was in exactly two weeks and he hadn’t been in a lineup for nine days.

Herrera, who injured his right middle finger during the first week of Grapefruit League play sliding headfirst into home plate, hasn’t played in an exhibition game since March 12. But the X-ray on his hand last week was negative and his mood remains positive.

“I’m feeling good - it’s just a small injury,” said Herrera, who is hitting .391 (9-for-23) with three doubles in seven games this spring. “I’m just waiting.”

But for how long?

“Two more days,” said Herrera through a translator. 

If Herrera returns Thursday (when the Phillies play a night game in Lake Buena Vista against the Atlanta Braves), he’d still have as many as 10 exhibition games to get his bat going again before the Phillies open the 2016 regular season on April 4 in Cincinnati.

Since spring can be long and monotonous, perhaps his mini-mid-March break was well-timed to keep his legs fresh for the grind of the regular season.

“I just decided to stop batting because of the regular season (around the corner),” he said, “felt it was a good time to take a break.”

The Phillies obviously need a healthy Herrera, especially with injuries already decimating their outfield. Aaron Altherr had wrist surgery earlier this month that will keep him sidelined for 4-6 months and Cody Asche has yet to play a game this spring while nursing a right oblique strain.