Altherr excelling in Kendrick’s absence

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He has made the most of his opportunities, hitting .412 (7-for-17) with three doubles, three RBIs, six runs and a 1.033 OPS in five games this week.

“A lot of work in the cage,” Altherr said, when asked how he stayed sharp earlier in the season. “When I’m in the cage, I treat that like a game. Have the mindset of being in the game, I’m taking an actual at-bat, keeping me mentally fresh and ready to go.”

Altherr's RBI double

The Phillies planned to have Altherr be an everyday player last season, but he injured his wrist in Spring Training. He returned from wrist surgery in July but struggled, hitting just .197 with a .587 OPS in 227 plate appearances.

Concerned that they could be shorthanded in the outfield again this season — the Phillies used Cedric Hunter, David Lough and Jimmy Paredes in the outfield last year — they acquired Kendrick and Michael Saunders in the offseason.

Altherr then made some mechanical adjustments to his swing during Spring Training. He lowered his hands and minimized the leg kick in his stance. He hit .303 (20-for-66) with five doubles, one triple, four home runs, 11 RBIs and a .986 OPS in the spring. He has carried that success into the regular season.

One wonders if Altherr had experienced more success last season if the Phillies would have acquired both Kendrick and Saunders.

Of course, they did. But if Altherr keeps hitting like this, what happens to him once Kendrick returns?

“Well, right now Altherr is our fourth outfielder,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “I’m going to get him in there as early and as often as I can. I think we see a couple of left-handers, including tomorrow. We see a couple in our next series, I believe. I’ll keep getting him in there as much as I can.”

Altherr, whose double against Bartolo Colon in the third left his bat at 111 mph, is not getting ahead of himself. Asked if he is approaching this as a chance to take a job, he said, “I’m just approaching it as, just go out and have fun and try to help the team win.”

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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