Another day, another dollar store excuse for not giving an Andrew Painter update.

On a day when Bailey Falter, who seems to clearly be the guy that will secure the No. 5 starter spot now that Painter has been shut down for the past six days, threw three solid innings for the Phillies in an eventual 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, manager Rob Thomson was forced to do some verbal gymnastics to explain why yet another day was passing without an update on Painter, who reported elbow soreness the day after his Spring Training debut last Wednesday.

“We’re still trying to get all the information and tests together and once we get it all read… he’s such an important guy in our organization, our top prospect… we want to make sure the information is right.”

When he was asked to elaborate on what that means, Thomson said, “Yeah, we want to get the information correct.”

Nice.

After another follow-up question asking if either Painter or the team was seeking a second opinion, thus causing this delay, Thomson remained vague.

“There’s a lot of people looking at stuff,” he said. “We just want everything to be right.”

Adding to the feeling of dread creeping into the heads of Phillies fans everywhere was a comment made by Painter’s agent Scott Boras to Alex Coffey of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

And while that’s some artistic, agent word salad that could mean something or nothing, Falter added to the worry when he said this to reporters after his start:

“It sucks to hear what happened to him,” Falter said. “We locker right next to each other, so I’ve been talking to him and I’m here for him for whatever he needs. I was in the same situation as him when I was 19, 20, 21, not being able to grow into my body properly. He’s getting older and getting stronger. The kid’s 19 and he’s throwing 100 so, obviously you’re going to run into problems every now and then. He seems to be in good spirits, and that’s all that really matters right now.”

Put all the above pieces together and it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that Painter is staring down the barrel of Tommy John surgery.

But…

Todd Zolecki, from Phillies.com wrote a day earlier that the concerns within the organization aren’t serious, but that the Phillies are going to be extra cautious with their prized prospect.

The Phillies have an off day Wednesday, and Bryce Harper is supposed to meet the media Thursday for the first time this Spring, so, it’s possible the Phillies try to hold off an official update until Friday.

Time will tell. Either way, the notion that Painter would make the Opening Day roster is seemingly nothing more than a pipe dream at this point.

It’s looking more and more like it’s going to be Falter, who looked like he was getting stronger with each inning Tuesday.

Falter threw 40 pitches, 29 for strikes. He did give up two runs, although one was unearned, and he allowed three hits, but he struck out three.

His first inning was rockier than the others. He gave up a lead-off single to Josh Lowe on the first pitch of the game, but an error by Bryson Stott put two runners on with no out. Falter was able to get a fielders choice before giving up a seeing-eye single to Manny Margot that allowed that run to score. From there, though, he allowed just one more hit, although that run would score after Falter left the game when Christopher Sanchez scored on a wild pitch.

“I was a little out of sync in the first inning but the second and third I got the rhythm of things and finished strong,” Falter said. “The curveball wasn’t really as sharp in this start, but the slider has been right there the whole time and I even threw some changeups for strikes, and I’m pretty fired up about that. I’m just trusting it more. I have a tendency to grip the ball so tight and just try to place it. Now I’m trying to trust my mechanics and just keep telling myself to hold it like an egg, and that’s helped me.”

Falter credited pitching coach Caleb Cotham with that suggestion.

On one other note, Falter said he was talking with the umpires at one point about the league mandate to crack down on the use of “sticky stuff” again, and indicated that checking for the stickiness will be more random, and could even happen between batters, not just between innings.

“The umpires were saying spin rate has gone up (across baseball) the last couple weeks,” Falter said. The league feels like umpires have become too predictable when they check, so a starter may be clean for the first inning, but knowing they may not check again until the fourth inning, he could load up on the sticky stuff for the second and third inning and get away with it. “I didn’t know about that and they were just filling me in. I was like, ‘all right, but I thought we were trying to speed the game up here.”