Phillies manager Joe Girardi met with the media this afternoon ahead of his team’s first full summer workout set to take place in South Philly tomorrow.

Most notably, Girardi raised some concern by saying “it’s possible” the four Phillies players (Scott Kingery, Hector Neris, Ranger Suarez, and Tommy Hunter) who were placed on the IL retroactive to June 30 could miss the start of the season.

Also of note, there was no discussion over the simply outstanding facial hair being sported by some of the team’s players this week.

Here’s a quick run through of Girardi’s session.

Injuries and Responsibility are Key

Teams that stay healthy have a chance to win. This statement isn’t exactly a revelation, but in the MLB’s 60-game sprint, it’s also a statement that has never been more true.

Girardi echoed this sentiment with reporters, noting he likes his team while reiterating on multiple occasions the importance of remaining healthy.

Accountability was a problem within the Phillies clubhouse a year ago, and it’s imperative that the team has grown (and grown a lot) in this department. In fact, I’d argue that it may be the key to the entire season.

The teams with players that do the best job of adhering to social distancing measures and taking personal responsibility both at the ballpark and away from it are best positioned to stay healthy. If the Phillies can excel on this front, it could be an equalizer factor in a hyper-competitive division that could be reasonably won by four different teams (sorry, Marlins).

Girardi, who believes the Phillies have the proper clubhouse leadership in place to accomplish this, says he emphasized to his team the importance of not jeopardizing themselves, their families, or the team’s chances of winning.

Uncertainty Regarding Injured Phillies

Scott Kingery, Hector Neris, Ranger Suarez, and Tommy Hunter were unceremoniously placed on the 10-day injured list yesterday (retroactive to 6/30). Typically, the team details why a player goes on the IL. That didn’t happen here, so COVID-19 speculation ensued.

Turns out, the speculation ensued with good reason:

The speculation didn’t die down following Girardi’s non-update about the four players this afternoon. The manager didn’t (or couldn’t) offer a timetable for any of the four players’ availability, instead noting that it’s a “possibility” they will not be available for Opening Day.


As Breen points out above, being placed on the COVID-19 Injured List doesn’t necessarily mean a player has been infected. Still, these transaction create a great deal of uncertainty over their immediate futures.

Needless to say, any of these players missing a prolonged period of time would be an absolutely brutal development. Entering his third season, Kingery, who has shown flashes of great promise (and great inconsistency) in his first two years, appears poised to make a big jump in 2020. The comfort brought by a consistent defensive position should help.

Neris, the team’s highest upside bullpen arm, is set to close and would be a monster loss should he miss any extended period of time.

Suarez and Hunter, while perhaps not as important to the team’s chances of contending, are each important pieces. Suarez, the team’s lone left-handed starting pitching option, had pitched himself into the fifth starter conversation back in March. Hunter, far from a fan favorite throughout his stay in Philadelphia, remains a middle-inning candidate in a wide-open bullpen.

Finally, Seranthony Dominguez has yet to have Tommy John surgery. It’s now July and a 2021 return looks more bleak by the day. It feels like forever ago since we saw the electric stuff that he routinely showcased in 2018.

Arms Race

Girardi said the team will likely begin the season with a five-man rotation and carry 15 to 17 pitchers. He also explained, given the uncertainty of this reduced season, that he could envision “three different rotations.” Essentially, this means his staff needs to plan in advance for a variety of factors that could disrupt the flow and availability of his starting rotation.

It remains to be seen who will occupy that No. 5 spot to open the season.

Time for a take–the Phillies may not want to put too much on Spencer Howard’s plate–or start his service time clock–but that’s my guy. Forget his lack of experience, Howard has the most upside among the handful of candidates to take that job.

I wrote this the other day, and I’ll write it again–the Phillies need to bridge the talent gap in the NL East. Having demonstrated both outstanding stuff and an advanced feel for pitching, Howard gives them the best chance of accomplishing this.

Will they do it? History suggests they will not, but we’ll see what happens over the next few weeks.

The DH Spot

My fellow baseball writers seem to be utterly fascinated by the designated hitter, so this came up again today. Girardi echoed what GM Matt Klentak said on Monday–the Phillies will use the DH to keep regular bats in the lineup while giving some guys a rest.

Jay Bruce will likely see some action there, while Girardi specifically mentioned J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper, and Andrew McCutchen.

Makes sense to me. For the time being, I think we can close the book on this mystery.

Other Notes

  • Girardi said he doesn’t believe any Phillies will opt-out of the 2020 season.
  • David Robertson’s rehab is progressing well, according to Girardi, who believes it’s “possible” he returns in 2020.
  • The manager doesn’t believe J.T. Realmuto’s contract situation will have an impact on his play.


And with that, let’s *finally* play some ball.