Phillies

Phillies' Aaron Nola: I did not have the virus

Phillies' Aaron Nola: I did not have the virus

Aaron Nola reported to Phillies camp on Monday, threw in the bullpen, then announced that he did not have COVID-19.

“All my tests have been negative,” the right-hander said.

Nola said his absence from camp — which officially began Friday — was because he came in contact with someone who tested positive.

“I’m glad to clear this up,” Nola said. “I was exposed to another person who tested positive. I had no symptoms. By MLB protocol, I had to stay home for seven days.”

Nola said he “stayed home” in the Philadelphia area. He added that he did not know where the exposure happened. He had previously been in Clearwater and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, his hometown.

Nola would not say if he had been exposed to a teammate or a club official who had tested positive. The Phillies have had several positive tests.

Nola has thrown regularly during the shutdown. He said his arm felt good and that he expects to face hitters in the next few days. That would put him in line to start during the first week of the season, perhaps even the July 24 season opener. The schedule will be announced tonight.

“I’m glad to be back,” he said after his workout Monday. “It felt good to throw off a nice mound.

“Everything felt normal, except we’re wearing masks." 

Manager Joe Girardi said Nola looked good during his bullpen session. Girardi would not put a projected date on Nola's first start, saying he wanted to gauge the pitcher for a few days before he locked anything in.

Nola said he has not considered opting out of the season but respects the decision of players who have done that.

“It hasn’t crossed my mind, but I understand that a lot of these guys have young families,” he said.

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Phillies' lineup for their return at Yankee Stadium after a week off

Phillies' lineup for their return at Yankee Stadium after a week off

For the first time in eight days, the Phillies are playing a game. Here is their lineup for tonight's 7:05 p.m. game at Yankee Stadium:

1. Andrew McCutchen LF
2. Rhys Hoskins 1B
3. Bryce Harper RF
4. J.T. Realmuto C
5. Didi Gregorius SS
6. Jean Segura 3B
7. Jay Bruce DH
8. Scott Kingery 2B
9. Adam Haseley CF

Some notes:

• McCutchen went 0 for 9 in the first two games of the season and sat the third. He impressed in the field with a sliding grab.

• Hoskins walked seven times in the opening series. Despite the Phillies being off a full week, he trails only Mike Yastrzemski (11) and Freddie Freeman (9) in the NL in walks.

• Harper and Realmuto each hit three-run homers in the Phillies' lone series of 2020.

• Gregorius returns to the Bronx, where he played the last five seasons and had three years of 20-plus home runs. He's hit two solo shots in the early going.

• Segura is 2 for 12 so far. He chased several pitches out of the zone against the Marlins.

• Haseley went 4 for 6 with two doubles in his lone start last Sunday, setting himself up for more work out of the leadoff spot when McCutchen rests.

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Phillies’ season resumes tonight with major challenge against Gerrit Cole at Yankee Stadium

Phillies’ season resumes tonight with major challenge against Gerrit Cole at Yankee Stadium

The only pitcher last offseason who joined a new team on a contract richer than Zack Wheeler’s was Gerrit Cole, the ace the Phillies face tonight at Yankee Stadium. 

Cole, who's won his first two starts this season, is a major challenge on any night but particularly when his 98 mph fastball and filthy breaking ball are being thrown to hitters who haven’t seen live pitching in eight days like the Phillies. The Phils’ bats likely need to shake off some rust. Good luck with that tonight. 

Cole signed a nine-year, $324 million contract in December just days after the Phillies signed Wheeler for $118 million over five years. The other big-name pitcher on the market was Stephen Strasburg, who followed a historic postseason by re-upping with the Nationals for $245 million over seven years. Cole’s AAV is $36 million, Strasburg’s is $35 million and Wheeler’s is $23.6 million. It will be interesting to see which starting pitcher gives his team the best bang for its buck over these next five years.

While Cole’s deal is for $11 million less than Bryce Harper’s in total, his AAV is much higher than Harper’s $25.4 million. Given that a position player plays five times more games in a normal season than a starting pitcher, Harper could end up providing his team more value during the life of his contract than Cole ... but let’s talk again in a decade.

If Cole indeed helps the Yankees win their first World Series since 2009 and second this millennium, nobody will question whether he was worth the money. Think back to that offseason before ‘09 when the Yankees committed $423.5 million to free agents CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett. 

Teixeira hit just .248 with the Yankees with an .822 OPS, far below expectations. But he also was the AL MVP runner-up in 2009 and the Yankees won it all his first season. 

Burnett had a 4.79 ERA in 98 career starts with the Yankees. But he also dominated the Phillies in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series to prevent his team from falling behind, at home, 2-0.

Big picture, both were worth it simply for the result of that season. The Yankees’ expectation with Cole is to win more than once, but even one title would probably make the deal worthwhile. 

The Phillies, with Harper, are a lot farther away, both because they haven’t acquired and/or developed young talents like Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres, but also because the Yankees have probably the best bullpen in baseball and the Phillies might have the worst. Pay close attention to that in the four games this week. The Yankees have elite lefties Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton, devastating righty Adam Ottavino and flamethrowing Tommy Kahnle. All four would be, by far, the best pitcher in a Phillies bullpen that has only one somewhat proven late-inning reliever: Hector Neris.

The Yankees have been ahead of the curve over the last handful of years building deep and uber-talented bullpens. And while it’s been more than a decade since they won it all, their GM Brian Cashman has done a remarkable job of building a major-market powerhouse that develops as well as it spends.

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