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Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr are back, sort of

The Phillies outfield is a puzzle. And they just found a couple of big pieces under the table.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

One of the many topics over which fans and writers have screamed themselves hoarse in the past few years is the length of the MLB season. One hundred and sixty-two games over six months, not including the glorious preseason of March, is just too much baseball for some squirming, non-committal folks who don’t necessarily want to follow the exploits of a team with barely 50 wins in 20 weeks for so long.

But without September, that month that gives us picturesque skies and cooler air without the promise of the post season, there just wouldn’t be enough baseball for a team like the Phillies to get back its broken players. Thankfully, because this sport thrives on going on forever, we will get to see Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr back in the Phillies lineup before 2018. Eventually.

Herrera has been working himself back from a strained left hamstring, and the team was being careful in orchestrating his return. It would have been legal to have him back with the team on August 26, but a last-place race and a couple of games against the Mets were “no reason,” according to Pete Mackanin, to rush the center fielder back from the disabled list. Herrera was assigned to rehab and was last seen in Reading, confirming that his injury had no effect on his renowned plate approach.

In the cases of both Herrera and Altherr, Mackanin let it fly that both young outfielders are in no danger of losing their standing or their jobs due to their missed time: “I’ve seen Altherr enough to know that he’s made a good impression. And we know Herrera is going to be our center fielder.”

In Herrera’s case - with the dominant offensive numbers (.287/.333/.467, 36 2B) stellar defense, and five-year contract extension - that role was all but understood. Altherr’s work has not gone unnoticed, but the Phillies’ plans for the future of their outfield do leave some curiosities. In a career dented with injury, any missed time for Altherr is precious, in that it robs us of his bat in the lineup, which sizzled and cooled but was sitting at .285/.357/.536 with 16 HR when he left the Phillies with his own hamstring strain on August 4.

For the Phillies and young players who could/should factor into the future, caution is prevailing for the Phillies, and Altherr will get further time to heal up despite joining the team.

This has done nothing to prevent the concoction of wild lineup fantasies.