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.

Phillies owner John Middleton would 'love' to sign an upgrade

Phillies owner John Middleton would 'love' to sign an upgrade

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Even though the Grapefruit League schedule starts on Friday and opening day is less than six weeks away, the Phillies are still hungry to improve their pitching.

In an interview with John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia on Tuesday, Phillies owner John Middleton said the team was “very” active in pursuing potential upgrades. Middleton went on to say that he would “love” to do something on that front.

Middleton made the comments as a number of attractive free-agent pitchers, including Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, remain unsigned.

“We’re having talks every single day with different people,” Middleton said. 

Middleton gets updates on those talks regularly from general manager Matt Klentak.

“Matt kind of now knows me, when we walk in the office and see each other for the first time he basically says [since] the last time I talked to you, John, at 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon nothing happened or this has happened,” Middleton said with a laugh. “Then I’ll see him at lunch time and still nothing has happened or this has happened. We have a lot of conversations about that.”

Middleton is eager to win, but he remains committed to seeing the rebuild through. Klentak has often said he won’t make a shortsighted move that would jeopardize the future. He has said his goal is to play in October for a decade, not just one year. That’s Middleton’s goal, too.

If the Phillies were to make an upgrade on the pitching side in the coming days or weeks, it would have to be on their terms. They have been in continuous contact with Arrieta’s representatives all winter, but won’t go to five or more years to sign the right-hander who turns 32 in March. If Arrieta were willing to sign a deal in the two- to four-year range, the Phillies would definitely have interest (more on all that here).

Stay tuned on that one. Camps are open. Free agents Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez have signed in recent days. Like Arrieta, they are represented by Scott Boras. The pitching logjam looks ready to break and could have an impact in Philadelphia, where the Phillies are methodically striving to become playoff relevant again.

“We wouldn’t be out talking to people the way we are if we didn’t think that we could get that little extra push,” Middleton said. “I think we all feel this way. [It] just has to be done in an intelligent, thoughtful and reasonable way.

“But, yeah, I’d love to do something."

Phillies willing to sign Jake Arrieta if ...

Phillies willing to sign Jake Arrieta if ...

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Longstanding rumors linking the Phillies to free-agent pitcher Jake Arrieta continue to percolate. On Tuesday morning, baseball reporter Jon Heyman tweeted that the Phillies and Arrieta were engaged in "dialogue."

Here’s what we know: At the winter meetings in December, Phillies officials met with Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, to go over a number of Boras’ clients. At the time, Arrieta was looking for a deal in the neighborhood of seven years and $180 million to $200 million. Those parameters were not a fit for the Phillies, who have placed a premium on short-term contracts while they move their rebuild forward.

The Phillies have remained engaged with the Arrieta camp throughout the winter and they have made it clear that if the pitcher’s price tag comes down, they would have interest in a union. It is believed the Phillies would be willing to sign Arrieta, who turns 32 in March, to a two- or three-year contract, at a significant salary and possibly with some creative structure such as an out after one year.

Earlier this winter, the Phillies had reservations about meeting free agent Carlos Santana’s original contract demands of upwards of five years. When Santana’s demands were lowered to three years, the Phillies pounced and signed him for $60 million. Such a lowering of demands could make Arrieta a Phillie. Of course, there are other teams interested. Arrieta has long been linked to the Cardinals and Nationals.

Arrieta would come with some risk. All pitchers of his age and odometer reading do. He won the National League Cy Young Award in 2015 while going 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA for the Chicago Cubs. He went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA the following season and slipped to 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA in 2017. That trend downward has coincided with a slight drop in velocity and that has given teams pause at signing Arrieta to a long-term deal. It would seem that even the Cubs had reservations about Arrieta as they let him walk and signed free agent Yu Darvish.

In the last few days, a couple of big-name Boras clients have signed. Eric Hosmer went to the Padres and J.D. Martinez to the Red Sox. Arrieta might be next. If he would come at the Phillies’ price he might end up being a Phillie.

Signing Arrieta would cost the Phillies a second- or third-round draft pick in June.