Any way you slice it, the Philadelphia Phillies' chances of making a remarkable comeback took a hit last week when center fielder Ben Revere fouled a ball off of his foot, resulting in a break that would require surgery to repair and place him on the shelf for the next six-to-eight weeks.
With little outfield depth to speak of, the Phillies have begun a search for, at the very least, a temporary replacement in center field, including the intriguing possibility that is Cesar Hernandez—a lifelong infielder—according to Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer and numerous other outlets.
Regarded as a slick-fielding second baseman, Hernandez had not ventured into the outfield for an official game since the 2007 season—his first season of professional baseball as a 17-year-old with the Phillies' Venezuelan Summer League club.
He played just one game in center field before moving to the middle infield full-time and has been a fixture in the organization at second base ever since.
Since his first professional season, Hernandez has been blocked at the major league level by Chase Utley, and the emergence of Freddy Galvis made the road to MLB even tougher on Hernandez. However, having hit .306/.372/.408 in Triple-A this season, the Phillies decided to give him some time in center field in an attempt to create outfield depth and get his bat in the lineup.
Within the aforementioned article, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. spoke to Brookover of the possibility that Hernandez could join the major league club as its temporary center fielder.
"We're moving Cesar [Hernandez] to [Double-A (Monday) from [Triple-A]," Amaro said. "He'll play center field every day for the next 10 days or so. We're going to get him extensive work down there. He'll be at Reading through the break, then back to Lehigh Valley at some point. But he'll be playing exclusively in center field to see if that's an option for us. He struggled (Saturday), but it's a new position for him. We'll give him a shot."
With the Triple-A schedule on hold for the All-Star break, Hernandez will join the Reading Fightin Phils, where, as promised, he is in the lineup play center field.
Hernandez, who has better speed than fellow infielder-turned-utility man Freddy Galvis, has also had a better year at the plate. The Phillies seem to believe that he has the natural instincts, speed and range required to play a passable defensive center field.
With trade options few and far in between for a short-term, stopgap replacement in center, the "Hernandez-in-center field" experiment is one to keep an eye on over the next week or so, and even later on when the team finally sours on Delmon Young in the outfield.
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