J.T. Realmuto was in the Phillies' initial lineup Sunday to make his spring debut but was scratched 3½ hours before the game. Joe Girardi said on MLB Network Radio that Realmuto is dealing with general soreness.
"When I walked in this morning, he had some general soreness in his body," the Phillies' manager said. "He had probably 7 to 10 at-bats yesterday (in a simulated game), he threw to bases, he caught. I just said, 'Hey, it’s cooler today, you have general soreness. I’m not going to play you for three at-bats, I don’t think it’s worth it. Let’s just see how it goes tomorrow and we’ll try to get you in.'"
Realmuto was supposed to bat second as the designated hitter for the 1 p.m. game against the Tigers on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
The Phillies' $115.5 million catcher fractured his right thumb while catching a bullpen session in mid-February, about five weeks ago. Realmuto has been progressing well and saying he expects to be ready for opening day. The Phillies want to get Realmuto into a game or two as the DH before putting him behind the plate.
"He understood," Girardi said. "He even said the important day is April 1, the important day is not today, even though we want to get him as many at-bats and get him behind the plate as soon as we can. We need to make sure he’s completely healthy and we don’t jeopardize anything else by trying to rush this."
The National League will not have the designated hitter this season so that won't be an option to get Realmuto more at-bats early in the season when the Phillies open with 13 straight games against the Braves and Mets. Those are crucial games that matter as much in April as they do in September, and the Phils need Realmuto available for as many of them as possible. He was one of their top performers against those two teams last season, hitting .293 with four homers and three doubles in 16 games.
Realmuto’s injury came just two weeks after his free-agent odyssey ended with a five-year, $115.5 million deal to return to the Phillies. This will be his third season with the Phils. He was an All-Star, Gold Glover and Silver Slugger in Year 1. Last season, he posted a career-high .349 on-base percentage and .840 OPS. He carried the Phils for the first two weeks, hitting .288 with eight homers and 20 RBI in his first 13 starts.
Today’s revised lineup:
1. Andrew McCutchen, LF
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Bryce Harper, DH
4. Alec Bohm, 3B
5. Matt Joyce, RF
6. Andrew Knapp, C
7. Darick Hall, 1B
8. Luke WIlliams, 2B
9. Ronald Torreyes, SS
Chase Anderson, RHP