Cesar Hernandez, Odubel Herrera Returning in Next 3 Days; Who Backs Up Rhys Hoskins at 1B?

TAMPA, Fla. - The Phillies will get two of their projected starters back in the lineup this week when Cesar Hernandez returns from a strained hip flexor and Odubel Herrera (hamstring) makes his Grapefruit League debut.

Hernandez will lead off and play second base for the Phillies' split squad in Bradenton Thursday against the Pirates. 

Herrera will be the Phillies' designated hitter Saturday in Clearwater against the Astros.

Both had five plate appearances in a minor-league game Wednesday. Hernandez played second base for five innings.

Roman Quinn ran around in center field. He's progressing but isn't as close to a return. It still seems likely that Quinn will open the season on the injured list and work his way back timing-wise. 

Maikel Franco returned to the Phillies' lineup Wednesday night against the Yankees after missing a few days with a bug that made its way through the Phillies' clubhouse.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler still has not officially named Herrera his starting centerfielder or Franco his starting third baseman. 

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Franco is competing with Scott Kingery and Herrera is competing with Aaron Altherr. Kapler said earlier in the week that he doesn't see Nick Williams as a centerfielder.

"We're taking a wait-and-see approach with both of those guys," Kapler said Wednesday of the third base battle. "It's a little early. Definitely taking it slowly, want to see more, want to see both of them compete and bring their highest energy levels every day.

"I still see it as a fight for reps in center field right now. Odubel needs to ensure that he's healthy and that he's physically capable of taking (a big workload) in center field. We're interested in his at-bats, his defense, his baserunning, his ability to show us that he's healthy, that he's a complete player. That will provide a lot of reassurance for us. That's what we're looking for from him."

Backup first baseman

A common question this spring has been who backs up Rhys Hoskins at first base?

"Rhys Hoskins is gonna play first base just about every day this season," Kapler said. "From there, I think we have a couple of guys who can play first base: Kingery, Sean Rodriguez, Franco can go over there and play first base if necessary. We have some options."

Rodriguez is battling to make the team.

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