Phillies may have to shut down J.T. Realmuto against his will in final week

Phillies may have to shut down J.T. Realmuto against his will in final week

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Would J.T. Realmuto be playing Monday if the Phillies didn't face a one-in-a-million chance to make the playoffs?

Probably not. Realmuto is dealing with right knee soreness and it's paramount for the Phillies to make sure there is no risk of further injury before putting him back on the field.

He was out of the lineup Monday night after experiencing the soreness Sunday in Cleveland.

"It was the double-play ball, the grounder to short," Realmuto said. "I was running to first. I didn't actually feel anything when I was running so I don't know how it happened. When I came back out to catch the next inning, I just felt a little discomfort in my knee, it kept popping every time I moved it. It would pop, just a little discomfort. It wasn't really painful yesterday, but I woke up today and it was a little more tender, a little more pain. Definitely sore. I think Gabe just wanted to be cautious today and not push it."

The Phillies are taking a day-to-day approach for now. Realmuto will undergo an MRI Monday night.

"I'm going to go get one tonight just to make sure," he said. "With it being my knee, we don't want to take any chances. I don't see it being anything too serious. I think I should feel better tomorrow, but we're going to get one just to make sure."

It's easy to point to Realmuto's workload to explain a late-season injury, but it may not be accurate. This has been a remarkably healthy and durable season for the two-time All-Star. He has played 145 games, starting 130 behind the plate and accruing 593 plate appearances. Those 130 starts are 12 more than any catcher. He has logged 87 more innings behind the plate than any catcher.

But until Sunday night and aside from a few missed starts when a ball caught him in the manly parts in mid-June, Realmuto has not been affected by injuries this year. He has gotten stronger as the season has progressed, which is unique among catchers. It's more common to see a catcher follow the track of 2019 Willson Contreras — very good offensively early, but the bat wanes and the nagging injuries mount throughout the six-month grind.

Realmuto has been a different story. His second-half OPS is 125 points higher than his first-half mark. He has four more extra-base hits in the second half in 83 fewer plate appearances.

"I feel like with my body type and my preparation this is the type of workload that I want," Realmuto said. "I feel like it's something I can still sustain for years to come. I don't think missing one game in September is a problem where I don't think I should catch as much. I think it's definitely something for my career that I want to be a guy that's back there every day."

If the MRI shows anything potentially worrisome, Realmuto will likely be shut down for the season's final eight games.

"We're going to be smart about it," he said. "Because we all know where we stand right now in the standings. I don't want to push it and risk hurting myself for next year or anything like that. But if there's nothing structural wise that I can make worse, then I want to be back there with my teammates and I want to play the last few games of the year. I love to play this game so I want to be out there if I can, but we're going to be smart about it."

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Bryce Harper admits HBP was a 'scary' moment, but it sounds like he'll be OK

Bryce Harper admits HBP was a 'scary' moment, but it sounds like he'll be OK

NEW YORK — Friday night wasn't a fun one for the Phillies, but they at least avoided disaster. While Bryce Harper's hand was wrapped and sore after the Phils' 5-4 walk-off loss to the Mets, X-rays were negative.

The Phillies have called it a right-hand contusion.

As of now, no further testing is scheduled. Harper is unsure whether he can play Saturday night. It is a tricky spot. The Phillies are fading out of the wild-card race and every game carries extreme importance. Harper wants to play. But exacerbating a hand injury is not something any slugger wants to do. 

"I don't know yet. See tomorrow how I feel," he said. "Of course, we're in the stretch right now so if I can be in there, I'm gonna be in there. But gotta be careful too."

Harper could not grip a bat after Steven Matz hit him in the hand with a 92 mph sinker in the third inning. He remained in the game to run but was removed for Sean Rodriguez a half-inning later.

"Any time it squares you up a little bit, it's scary," Harper said. "Definitely wanted to get on first and keep the game going. But yeah, it wasn't good."

Nor was Friday's ending. For the second straight game, reliever Nick Vincent was dealt a walk-off loss. The winning run scored when Vincent walked Pete Alonso with the bases loaded in the ninth.

The Phillies are 72-68 and remain four games behind the Cubs, who also lost Friday to the Brewers.



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Will the Phillies be without valuable reliever Seranthony Dominguez next season, too?

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Will the Phillies be without valuable reliever Seranthony Dominguez next season, too?

Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez experienced some soreness in his injured right elbow during his last throwing session.

You don’t need a degree in Sports Medicine to know where this could be headed.

Nor do you need to be a rehab specialist to know what it could mean for next season.

According to manager Gabe Kapler, Dominguez will be examined next week by orthopedic surgeon Michael Ciccotti, the Phillies’ longtime head of medical services. A course of action will be determined after that examination.

This doesn’t sound good, and here’s why:

Dominguez, 24, has not pitched in nearly three months. The hard-throwing right-hander left the Phillies' June 5 game at San Diego with pain in his elbow. Two days later, general manager Matt Klentak said that Dominguez had sustained “damage” to his ulnar collateral ligament. Klentak added that Tommy John surgery was a possibility pending a second opinion.

It’s worth noting that general managers don’t throw these words around unless they’re pretty convinced that surgery will be needed.

Dominguez got his second opinion from all-star orthopedist James Andrews and, surprisingly, surgery was not recommended. Andrews treated Dominguez with a PRP injection and prescribed a rest and rehab program that left the Phillies hoping that Dominguez might actually come back and pitch this season.

That’s not happening now, and given the initial diagnosis of  UCL damage, and the pitcher's lack of progress over nearly three months, one would suspect that surgery is a strong possibility.

If Dominguez does indeed need Tommy John surgery, he will require up to a year of recovery time and that will put him out for most, if not all, of next season. That will be a blow to the team because Dominguez is a real talent, one the Phillies hoped to build their bullpen around.

Already, the 2020 season is off to a bad start in the bullpen. David Robertson, whose two-year, $23 million contract runs through next season, could miss all or most of 2020 after having Tommy John surgery earlier this month.

Injuries have crippled the Phillies’ bullpen this season and Dominguez has been one of the team’s biggest losses. The Phils have eight relievers on the injured list with just Hector Neris and Jose Alvarez remaining from the season-opening bullpen.

Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek are done for the season. Adam Morgan is out with a flexor injury in his left elbow and Kapler said it’s likely that he’s done for the season.

On the starting pitching front, Jake Arrieta had his elbow surgically cleaned out earlier this week. Kapler said the pitcher had a couple of bone spurs and some loose bodies removed.

“He definitely gutted it out and pitched through some real challenges,” Kapler said.

Arrieta is expected to be ready to go for spring training.

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