Phillies dealing with a rash of injuries two weeks before opener

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The regular season doesn’t begin for another two weeks but the Phillies’ depth is already being tested. 

The month began with top prospect Andrew Painter spraining the UCL in his right elbow after his first spring training start. His quest for the No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation was the top storyline the first few weeks of camp but he won’t pick a ball back up until at least April 1. 

Painter’s injury opened the spot up for Bailey Falter, but then Ranger Suarez returned early from the World Baseball Classic with forearm tightness after an exhibition start against the Astros on March 8. Suarez seems to be back on track, but his status for the first week of the season is up in the air. He’d likely need to make two or three starts to ramp up for the regular season. One of them might have to be a simulated game after the Phillies come north. 

If Suarez can’t make his first turn through the rotation, left-hander Michael Plassmeyer would currently be the next man up. Cristopher Sanchez had been a candidate but he’s dealt with injuries and diminished velocity in camp. 

The depth behind Plassmeyer is shaky and might force the Phillies to explore a trade if something else unforeseen happens. Keep in mind that Aaron Nola leads the majors in innings pitched the last five seasons and Zack Wheeler is fourth, so the Phillies will want to protect them throughout a long season. 


The Phillies are off March 31, the day after their season opener, which would allow them to skip the No. 5 spot in the rotation until the sixth game of the season if Suarez needs another day. 

Beyond the pitching injuries, which also include long reliever Nick Nelson, the Phillies’ top backups to J.T. Realmuto are dinged up. Garrett Stubbs left the WBC early with a knee issue and Rafael Marchan hasn’t played in a week because of a hand injury. There is no other catcher on the 40-man roster, though the Phillies have 33-year-old veteran John Hicks in camp. He has 264 games of big-league experience in six seasons with the Tigers, Rangers and Mariners. Aramis Garcia, 30, is also with the Phillies as a non-roster invitee. He’s caught in the majors each of the last four seasons with San Francisco, Oakland and Cincinnati. 

Painter and Nelson both could have been part of the Phillies’ 13-man pitching staff to open the season, so the opportunity increases for Yunior Marte, Luis Ortiz and Andrew Vasquez. All three came over this offseason from the Giants in separate transactions. Marte has impressed in camp, allowing one run in six innings with six strikeouts. Ortiz has given up two runs in six innings with seven K’s.