Phillies

Phillies to begin rolling out starting rotation this weekend

Phillies to begin rolling out starting rotation this weekend

TAMPA — The Phillies were eager to take a look at another of their young starting pitchers on Tuesday, but lefty Ranger Suarez's scheduled start against the New York Yankees was rained out.

Under first-year pitching coach Chris Young, the Phillies have taken a different approach with their top five starters this spring. Basically, the group is making the equivalent of a first start by pitching live batting practice to teammates.

The Phils will be ready to unveil the first of their projected starters on Saturday when Zach Eflin starts in Port Charlotte against the Tampa Bay Rays. Jake Arrieta will start Sunday in Fort Myers against the Minnesota Twins.

The Phillies are off on Monday. Aaron Nola and Nick Pivetta will piggyback each other and face the St. Louis Cardinals in Clearwater on March 5. That game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Philadelphia. Kapler has not announced an opening day starter, but Nola, who finished third in last year's NL Cy Young voting, is expected to get the nod.

Vince Velasquez will start on March 6 against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin.

Kapler explained the Phillies' approach to getting the projected starting five ready for the season.

"We're building these guys up in intense, live BP sessions so we can ensure they get their work in," he said. "One of the things we've seen in past spring trainings is starters running higher pitch counts, and needing to come out of games without getting to their necessary workload to effectively build them up. By letting them build volume in these live BPs, we can safely control the environment. We feel that a consistent ramp-up period will lead to the best outcomes for our guys both from a strength and a health perspective. This is a roadmap that will have them ready to go deep into games in the opening week of the season. 

"The obvious side benefit of all of this is that we get a long look at some of our up-and-coming arms in starting roles against major-league hitters." 

Suarez made three starts in the majors for the Phillies last season and projects to open back in Triple A along with Cole Irvin, who will start Wednesday in Clearwater against the Twins.

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Virus has Phillies in holding pattern with J.T. Realmuto and Seranthony Dominguez

Virus has Phillies in holding pattern with J.T. Realmuto and Seranthony Dominguez

Because of the coronavirus health crisis and the delay in starting the Major League Baseball season, the Phillies remain in a holding pattern on a couple of significant baseball matters, general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday.

It's still unclear whether reliever Seranthony Dominguez will opt to have his injured right elbow surgically repaired. The health crisis has prevented Dominguez from getting a second opinion from orthopedic surgeon James Andrews. Dominguez is currently with family in his native Dominican Republic.

"Medicine is not always black and white," Klentak said. "There's a possibility it may head down that (surgical) road, but until he gets the second opinion, we have no firm declaration. For a lot of players, surgery is a last option, particularly when the surgery keeps you out as long as Tommy John surgery does. Before we go down that road, we want to make sure everyone is in agreement on what the right course of action is."

Dominguez saw Andrews shortly after injuring his elbow in early June last season. Surgery was not recommended at that time, but Dominguez missed the remainder of the season. He had a setback in August and again in March and all signs point to his needing surgery. Andrews would be a likely person to handle the surgery, but he is not seeing patients at the moment because of the health crisis.

Surgery, whenever it happens, would sideline Dominguez for more than a year.

The other matter currently on hold involves All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto and the team's effort to sign him to a contract extension before he becomes a free agent in the fall. The two sides had begun negotiations in February, but those talks, by mandate from Major League Baseball, are now on hold because of the health crisis.

Could the freeze on negotiations and the uncertainty of whether or not there will be a 2020 season hurt the Phillies in their quest to keep Realmuto off the free-agent market?

"Whenever we resume playing, we'll see what the circumstances are and re-engage," Klentak said. "Nobody can predict what the parameters will be at that point or what will happen, but I think everyone knows we love J.T. and he's a player we'd love to have for the long haul."

Thursday would have been the Phillies' home opener. They had been scheduled to play their first seven games on the road before MLB suspended action on March 12 and encouraged players to head home. Training facilities have subsequently been closed except to a handful of players who are rehabilitating from injuries. 

MLB still hopes to have a season in some form, but nothing is certain. Like the rest of the world, it is at the mercy of the virus.

"I don't have enough information to know what's going to happen and I'm not sure anyone does," Klentak said. "What I am confident about is owners, players, front offices, fans, media, everybody is aligned in wanting to play baseball as quickly as we can. When all parties are as aligned as that, it gives me confidence that we'll get back as soon as we can get back. But I'm not in a position to make any predictions as to when that might happen.

"We'll do the best we can in the interim to prepare for the season. If it's a traditional season, we'll be prepared. If it's a modified season, we'll be prepared. I have a lot of confidence in league operations."

A resumed spring training would be required before any type of regular season, but Klentak would not speculate on what that might look like.

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Layoffs? Pay cuts? Phillies hope to avoid measures like that with full-time staff

Layoffs? Pay cuts? Phillies hope to avoid measures like that with full-time staff

The suspension of the Major League Baseball season due to the coronavirus health crisis has already hurt the revenues of all teams and will continue to do so as long as the game is shut down.

This has some people who work for teams all over baseball concerned about their jobs. 

Every MLB team, according to sources, has informed its full-time employees that business will run as usual through the end of April at which point teams will assess their respective situations.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak on Thursday was asked about the potential for layoffs or salary cuts within the organization.

"That's a situation that is not unique to baseball, unfortunately," Klentak said. "A lot of decisions will be made above my pay grade, obviously. For all of us, we are hopeful that we'll resume and not have to take measures like that. We trust that the Phillies are owned and run by very good people — and have been for a long time. Everybody is trying to do the best thing right now."

Layoffs and salary cuts were a big issue during the work stoppage in 1994-95. Some teams did cut full-time staff and pay. The Phillies did not.

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