Phillies

Clay Buchholz has partial forearm tear, will seek second opinion

Clay Buchholz has partial forearm tear, will seek second opinion

Clay Buchholz's MRI Wednesday revealed a partial tear of his right flexor pronator mass.

The flexor pronator mass is a collection of muscles on the anterior of the forearm used for wrist and finger flexion.

Buchholz will get a second opinion Monday from Dr. James Andrews. It's never a good sign when the words "second opinion" and "Dr. James Andrews" are used in the same sentence.

No timetable has been given but this has the look of a lengthy DL stint for Buchholz.

Buchholz tried to pitch through the issue Tuesday night but eventually called out Phillies manager Pete Mackanin and trainer Scott Sheridan in the third inning. Buchholz had allowed six runs on eight hits over 2 1/3 innings and, as he put it, "wasn't doing the team any favors throwing what I was throwing at that point in time so I made the move."

It's been an ominous start to the season for Buchholz, who allowed 10 runs and 19 base runners over just 7 1/3 innings in his first two starts. He's the second-highest-paid Phillie this season at $13.5 million and is a free agent after the season.

Buchholz suffered a flexor strain in July 2015 with the Red Sox and missed the rest of the season. It's also the same injury Cliff Lee suffered the night of the trade deadline in 2014. Lee never pitched another game in the majors.

"I've been on the DL for an extended period of time, multiple times," Buchholz said Tuesday night. "It's nothing that you want to happen. For me, I've got to find out obviously what it is and then get it taken care of."

It's unclear who the Phillies will turn to in replacing Buchholz in the rotation. Mackanin said before the game there are "five capable starters" at Triple A, referring to Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson, Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta and Mark Appel.

Eflin and Thompson pitched for the Phillies last summer and both experienced highs and lows -- Eflin finished with a 5.54 ERA; Thompson had a 5.70 ERA.

Eflin was activated off the DL Tuesday night and pitched at Triple A Lehigh Valley, so he wouldn't have to shift his schedule if the Phillies turn to him. But they might want to see him pitch a few more games at Triple A first to show he's fully healthy after undergoing two knee surgeries late last season. Eflin pitched five shutout innings for the IronPigs but was a bit rusty with control, throwing 42 strikes among 70 pitches.

Another option for the Phillies would be to call up a reliever and skip the fifth spot in the rotation. The Phillies' off days Thursday and Monday would allow for that. However, the Phils have two pitchers in Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez who could use the extra day of rest -- Nola is coming off an elbow injury that cut short his 2016 season, and Velasquez needs to be built up gradually given the fact he's never exceeded 131 innings.

For Phillies, a reunion with Pat Neshek makes sense

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AP Images

For Phillies, a reunion with Pat Neshek makes sense

ORLANDO — The Phillies' bullpen showed signs of coming together late last season. Over the final 33 games, the team's relievers put together a 2.54 ERA. Only the Cleveland Indians' bullpen had a better ERA (2.41) over that span.

Despite those improvements, general manager Matt Klentak has arrived at these winter meetings intent on strengthening that unit. Sources say the club would like to add one or two veterans to the bullpen and that team officials have discussed a reunion with free agent Pat Neshek. Sources say the Phils have also expressed interest in free-agent lefty Jake McGee.

The Phils would also like to add a starting pitcher. That could come in a trade, possibly involving Cesar Hernandez or Freddy Galvis.

Bringing back Neshek would make a lot of sense. Klentak has an affinity for the right-hander, and why not? In his first two offseasons as Phillies GM, Klentak added a number of veterans designed to serve as stabilizing forces as the team navigated a rebuild. The Phils got little from pitchers Charlie Morton and Clay Buchholz; both suffered season-ending injuries early in their time with the club. The Phils got mixed results (and no high draft pick) from Jeremy Hellickson in a season and a half with the club. Howie Kendrick contributed nicely but was often hurt. Michael Saunders flopped. Peter Bourjos was somewhere in the middle.

Among Klentak's big-league pickups, Neshek has been the one overwhelming success. Klentak acquired the side-arming reliever in a salary dump deal (the Phils added his $6.5 million salary) from Houston in the fall of 2016 and Neshek delivered a stellar season in 2017. He pitched in 43 games (40⅓ innings) for the Phillies and gave up just five runs while walking five and striking out 45. At the trade deadline, the Phils turned Neshek into three prospects by sending him to Colorado, where he was a teammate of McGee's. In Colorado, Neshek continued to shine. He finished the season with a 1.59 ERA in 71 games. Overall, he pitched 62⅓ innings and gave up just 11 earned runs while walking six and striking out 69.

Why wouldn't the Phillies want a guy like that back to help set up for Hector Neris and complement Luis Garcia, Adam Morgan and Edubray Ramos, all relatively young relievers who showed breakthrough signs in 2017?

Given Neshek's success last season — he was the Phillies' lone All-Star — and his track record, he would probably require a two-year contract. But even at 37, Neshek has shown the durability that would make that a sound investment, especially if there was not a no-trade clause. That way, the Phils could deal Neshek for young talent if they were not in the race. And, of course, they could hang on to him if they were in the race.

Matt Klentak has veteran relievers on his wish list and Pat Neshek makes sense.

Again.

5 Phillies-specific matters to watch during Winter Meetings

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USA Today Images

5 Phillies-specific matters to watch during Winter Meetings

ORLANDO, Fla. — Matt Klentak checked off the biggest item on his offseason to-do list when he hired new manager Gabe Kapler in late October. Other than that, it's been a relatively quiet offseason for the Phillies general manager, who is entering his third year on the job.

Things are expected to pick up for Klentak and the Phillies this week as baseball's Winter Meetings get underway at Disney. Heck, things should pick up for the entire industry now that the winter's two marquee talents — Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton — have found landing spots. Ohtani, the Japanese phenom, signed with the Angels. Stanton was traded from the Marlins to the Yankees.

As the meetings get going, here are five Phillies-specific matters to keep an eye on:

Middle infield
The Phillies have a young shortstop (J.P. Crawford) and a young second baseman (Scott Kingery) on the way and any clubs looking for a shortstop or a second baseman know the Phillies are willing to deal Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez. In fact, the Phillies have already received offers for both of these players, though none worthy of pulling the trigger on. The Phillies could go into the 2018 season with Galvis and Hernandez on the roster and mix in Crawford at three positions while Kingery percolates in Triple A. But it seems more likely the Phils will move one (maybe both) of their incumbents. Hernandez has three years of contract control so he could have more value than Galvis (he'll be a free agent next winter) on the trade market. The Angels have long liked Hernandez and the Mets are looking for second base help. The Padres are looking for a stopgap shortstop as they wait for prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., but there are free agents out there (Zack Cozart, Alcides Escobar) that would not cost the Padres talent in a deal.

Bullpen
The Phillies' bullpen showed signs of coming together in the second half of last season, but the team would still like to add a veteran who knows his way around the late innings. A Pat Neshek reunion has been discussed internally. A reunion with free agent Juan Nicasio might make sense.

Starting pitching
At the general managers' meetings last month, Klentak acknowledged the need to add a starting pitcher. The Phillies will look to mine the second tier of the free-agent market and will also look to get pitching in a deal for Hernandez or Galvis.

A blockbuster deal
The Phillies' farm system has improved to the point where they have the depth to jump in full-force if the Orioles make Manny Machado available or the Marlins look to trade Christian Yelich. Both players have big fans in the Phillies' front office. The Phils could also bid for a pitcher such as Chris Archer or Gerrit Cole if they become available.

Rule 5 draft
The Phillies have the third pick in Thursday's event and will have room on their roster after outfielder Cameron Perkins and infielder Engelb Vielma clear waivers Monday. The Phillies sneaked outfielder Carlos Tocci through the Rule 5 draft last year. They could lose him this year.

First base coach
The Phillies still have one opening on their coaching staff. Juan Samuel, most recently the Phillies' third base coach, could still end up being retained on the staff and move over to first base. Kapler, in continuing to introduce himself to his new charges, recently met with Phillies players in the Dominican Republic. Front office man Jorge Velandia, a longtime member of the player-development staff, accompanied Kapler on the trip. The Phillies brass likes Velandia's impact in the front office, but he could be an intriguing possibility as the first-base coach. He interviewed for the managerial job before Kapler was hired.

Gabe the Babe
Craig Calcaterra, founder of the HardballTalk blog on NBCSports.com, unveils his annual list of baseball's most handsome managers during the winter meetings. This hilarious feature is hotly anticipated by many in the baseball establishment. Pete Mackanin ranked eighth last year and it was a big topic of conversation in the Phillies' war room. So where will the hunky Kapler land in his first year of eligibility? Keep an eye out for Calcaterra's fifth annual list.