Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr had his rehab assignment transferred to High A Clearwater on Monday, signifying another step forward in his return from a wrist injury.
Altherr, 25, was supposed to be a key piece for the Phillies this season. He was penciled in as their rightfielder and No. 5 or 6 hitter, but he injured his wrist the first week of March on a diving attempt. Though he initially downplayed the injury, the wrist required surgery that kept Altherr out almost exactly four months.
"That was a big blow to us," manager Pete Mackanin said of Altherr's injury. "Not that he was an established player by any means, but he showed enough to where we know how good he is defensively, we know that he's got power, we know he can run, and he kind of held his own for the most part. This was an important year to see where he could be. Let's say he finishes the last two months of the season — that gives us a better indication. But it's a shame we couldn't find out watching him play the whole year."
Altherr began his rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League on July 8. A position player can spend up to 20 days on his rehab assignment before the team must make a decision to either bring him up or send him to a minor-league affiliate. Altherr needs at-bats before joining the Phillies because he had practically no spring training. Plus, the Phils are not hurting as badly for corner outfield offense as they were earlier in the season, with Peter Bourjos and Cody Asche playing well lately.
But as soon as Altherr is deemed ready, the Phillies will bring him up and give him a two-month look, likely prioritizing his development. It will be roughly the same amount of playing time as Altherr received last season, when he hit .241/.338/.489 in 39 games. The 6-foot-5 Altherr impressed with his power and defense, hitting 20 extra-base hits in just 161 plate appearances and playing all three outfield spots.