CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Can the Phillies come up big in back-to-back Rule 5 Drafts?
The question became more important following outfielder Aaron Altherr's surgery Wednesday in Philadelphia to repair a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist. Altherr, who tweeted the surgery went well, is expected to miss four to six months. But his absence leaves a significant hole in the Phillies' young and unproven outfield, creating the possibility they could have two Rule 5 Draft picks in their Opening Day lineup.
"I'm disappointed," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Wednesday. "This would be a good year for [Altherr] to establish himself. He's an unproven outfielder and unproven Major League player -- this would have been an ideal year for him to do that. Now he's set back probably a year, which I'm not happy about."
Enter Tyler Goeddel, who the Phillies selected with the first overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft in December. The Phillies figured he could make the team as a fourth or fifth outfielder, but he could be pushed into regular playing time, either as an everyday player on in a platoon with Cody Asche.
"If they need me to play right field or whatever, I'll be ready," Goeddel said. "I'm going to work hard out there, and hopefully the results will keep producing and make the decision tough on them."
Odubel Herrera, who the Phillies selected in the Rule 5 Draft in December 2014, and Peter Bourjos are locks to be in the Opening Day lineup, but the Phillies have few options outside of Goeddel and Asche to be the team's third outfielder. Other outfielders in camp include David Lough, Darnell Sweeney, Cedric Hunter, Nick Williams and Roman Quinn. Top prospects Williams and Quinn will open the season in the Minor Leagues.
"The thing we all wanted to see out in the outfield was better coverage," Mackanin said. "Speed. Legitimate outfielders. To experiment with [Stassi], who is not a legitimate outfielder, is something I'd rather not do.
"That being said, Lough and Hunter are still in the picture. They cover ground. They're good outfielders. Burriss and Jackson can play anywhere. Those will all figure into it."
Of course, the Phillies could find help outside the organization. They have the first priority on the waiver wire through the end of April, so if somebody they like is released, they will have a shot at him.
Jeff Francoeur could be available at a cheap price. He is in Braves camp on a Minor League contract, but he is not expected to make the team. That said, the Phillies had the opportunity to sign him to a Minor League contract in the offseason and were not interested.
But losing Altherr is clearly a blow because the Phillies wanted to see what they have in him. They also needed him for some of the pop in his bat. Altherr is not a power hitter, but he posted an .827 OPS in 161 plate appearances last year.
"We knew that going in," Mackanin said about the team's lack of power. "We're aware of that. If this is what we've got, we'll figure out a way to manufacture runs or utilize our speed or things like that. As a manager, you always adapt to the players you have. If you have the Toronto Blue Jays, you just let them hit home runs."
It would help if the Phillies get lucky in consecutive Rule 5 Drafts. Goeddel has played well so far. He entered Wednesday's split-squad games hitting .333 (6-for-18) with two doubles and three RBIs in six games.
"The results I've gotten so far have been pretty good," Goeddel said. "I feel really comfortable at the plate right now. There are still a couple of things I'm working on, but overall I feel good. Hopefully, I can keep it going."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.