As COVID-19 testing complications continue to plague Major League Baseball in the early days of its restart, the Phillies received some good news Monday.
Staff ace Aaron Nola told reporters that he did not test positive for coronavirus and instead was kept away from Citizens Bank Park over the weekend as a precautionary measure after making contact with someone who was infected.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi said he was kept up to date on Nola’s status, noting he was aware of negative multiple tests.
“It’s great to have him back in camp,” Girardi said.
Nola, who declined to say how or where he was exposed to the virus, believes he is on track for an Opening Day start against the Marlins on July 24.
Exactly how long will he last in that start?
“As long as I stay on track with what I’ve been doing, and obviously staying healthy without the virus–stay virus free–I want to go as long as I can,” Nola said.
It would seem his plan is to stick around longer than his Opening Day start against the Braves two seasons ago.
The question of the day came from Philadelphia Inquirer writer Bob Brookover, who followed up by asking Nola if he will go longer than 69 pitches–a reference to Gabe Kapler’s decision to infamously (and prematurely) yank Nola in what turned out to be a catastrophic loss on Opening Day 2018.
“Yeah, I hope so,” Nola said.
That line got a smile out Nola and a hearty chuckle out of the Zoom panel. Nola, you may recall, was pulled after just 68 pitches while surrendering one run through 5.1 IP against Atlanta in an 8-5 loss. The bullpen imploded.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 30, 2018
Here’s hoping Girardi’s first game in red pinstripes has a different outcome.