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Phillies’ Joe Girardi says April pitching to be battle of attrition

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 28: Manager Joe Girardi #25 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on from the dugout during the fifth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on September 28, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Adam Hagy/Getty Images)

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CLEARWATER, Fla. - Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi says he thinks pitching around the majors in April will be a battle of attrition following the shortened spring training.

The Phillies open the regular season at home on April 8 against the Oakland Athletics, the first of 13 straight days of games.

“I think that’s a pretty good way of putting it, you know,” Girardi said Monday before the Phillies played Baltimore in spring training. “It’s a concern I’m sure for every organization in the game, and our situation is tough where it’s 13 in a row. Just got to find a way through it and keep everybody healthy, that’s the most important thing.”

Teams are expected to have expanded rosters from 26 to 28 players in April, which would allow Girardi to have 15 active pitchers.

Solid defense, always a key, will be magnified with starters still building up and extensive use of bullpens.

“The most important thing for this team is, secure the baseball, right?” Girardi said. “Plays we need to make we need to make however you make them, too. You can fall down and catch popups, I don’t care. Just catch them, they count.”

Zack Wheeler, who went 14-10 with a 2.78 ERA and led the majors with 213 1-3 innings over 32 starts last year, threw live batting last Saturday and will do it again in the next few days. He experienced shoulder soreness in December but appears on target to be ready for the first week of regular season games.

“Wheeler is doing great,” Girardi said.

Wheeler is expected to make one spring training start before the Phillies break camp next week.

Aaron Nola will start Philadelphia’s regular season opener for the fifth consecutive year.

NOTES: Right-handed reliever Sam Coonrod has a shoulder strain and will not be ready for opening day. Coonrod has been shut down for five to seven days. He went 2-2 with a 4.02 ERA in 42 games last season. ... LHP Jose Alvarado (neck) has resumed throwing. He was 7-1 with a 4.20 ERA in 64 appearances in 2021. . Lefty Ranger Suarez, who arrived late to spring training due to visa issues, should start pitching in games soon. He was 8-5 record and 1.36 ERA in 39 games last year, including 12 starts.