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.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies

Aaron Nola is OK, Seranthony Dominguez’ elbow is not

Aaron Nola is OK, Seranthony Dominguez’ elbow is not

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Yes, Aaron Nola was sick earlier this week.

No, he did not have coronavirus.

In fact, Nola said, he was never tested for it because he never had a fever.

“It was a stomach bug, not the flu,” the Phillies pitcher said.

Nola, who had been scratched from his start Monday, returned to the Phillies’ clubhouse Thursday morning and threw a bullpen session. He could pitch in a simulated game or a minor-league game in the next day or so. He believes he has plenty of time to be ready to start the season opener two weeks from today …

… if the season opens on that day.

And that’s a big if.

Phillies team buses rolled for Port Charlotte and a spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday morning. That game was on course to start at 1:05 p.m., but it was not clear if games would be played on Friday due to concerns about coronavirus. With other professional leagues and college conferences suspending their seasons and tournaments, it was difficult to imagine Major League Baseball not following suit in the coming hours. Stay tuned on that one.

While the news was good on Nola, it was not good on reliever Seranthony Dominguez, who on Sunday suffered a setback in his recovery from an elbow injury.

“I'm really worried,” Dominguez said. “Because it's my career. It's my life.”

Dominguez said he felt discomfort on the last pitch he threw Sunday. He has undergone several tests already and was slated to have an MRI today.

Dominguez initially hurt the ulna collateral ligament in his right elbow last June. He dodged surgery but missed the final four months of the season. Will he be able to dodge surgery again? More will be known about his condition on Friday.

Play ball.

For now.

Subscribe and rate Phillies Talk:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

Sources: Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez suffers setback in recovery from elbow injury

Sources: Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez suffers setback in recovery from elbow injury

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Losing hard-throwing reliever Seranthony Dominguez was a huge blow to the Phillies last season and now there is fear his absence will extend into the new season, which begins in just 15 days.

Dominguez, according to sources, has experienced a setback in his recovery from an elbow strain that kept him on the sidelines for four months last season.

Over the last week, Dominguez has pitched twice in Grapefruit League games. The setback apparently occurred on Sunday when he pitched an inning against the Toronto Blue Jays. Dominguez struck out two batters and hit 95 mph on the stadium radar gun in that game.

The severity of Dominguez’ setback is still being determined. Wednesday is an off day in Phillies camp and more information on the pitcher’s condition is expected later in the week. Given Dominguez’ history, it’s difficult to envision him being part of the opening day bullpen and reasonable to wonder if his absence could be lengthy.

A starting pitcher in the minors, Dominguez rocketed his way to the majors after converting to the bullpen in spring training 2018. As a rookie that season, he appeared in 53 games, often as manager Gabe Kapler’s favorite high-leverage weapon, struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings and recorded a 2.95 ERA and 0.931 WHIP.

By the start of 2019, Dominguez had emerged as a major building block for the team, a power arm capable of getting big outs with the game on the line. But Dominguez was not the same pitcher in 2019. His fastball velocity suffered a slight decline and he had trouble duplicating his success from the previous year. He allowed 8.8 hits per nine innings, up from 5 the previous season, and his WHIP was 1.459 when his season ended June 5 in San Diego after his 27th appearance.

That proved to be a disastrous series for the Phillies. They also lost leadoff man Andrew McCutchen to a torn ACL in that series. That injury will also affect the new season as McCutchen will open on the injured list.

After returning to Philadelphia from San Diego, Dominguez was diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament. General manager Matt Klentak was quite open in discussing the possibility that Dominguez would need Tommy John surgery and require more than a year of recovery. Even Dominguez admitted that he would need a “miracle” to avoid surgery. 

Dominguez appeared to get his miracle when he visited with superstar orthopedic surgeon James Andrews for a second opinion. Andrews recommended a conservative recovery. Dominguez was treated with a PRP injection and rest and rehab was prescribed.

By August, Dominguez was doing some light throwing again. Late in the month, he experienced more pain in the elbow, but still not enough that the experts recommended surgery.

Throughout the winter, Dominguez continued his recovery and the reports were good. At the start of spring training, the big challenge was slowing Dominguez down because he was feeling so good in bullpen workouts. But the intensity of a pitcher’s work and the stress on his arm increases in game action and now, after just two Grapefruit League appearances, there is concern once again for the 25-year-old right-hander.

The Phillies’ bullpen was riddled with injuries last season. In addition to Dominguez, Adam Morgan, David Robertson, Tommy Hunter and Victor Arano all went down. Management was hopeful that the majority of these relievers would come back as healthy difference-makers in 2020 and Dominguez was at the top of that list. Of the group, only Morgan projects as a sure bet for opening day. Arano and Hunter should not be far behind. Robertson, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, hopes to return during the second half of the season. 

Dominguez’ situation creates even more uncertainty in an already an unclear bullpen picture as opening day speeds toward us.

The Phillies will carry eight relievers. There appears to be four locks in Hector Neris (closer), Morgan, Jose Alvarez and Francisco Liriano. Two from the trio of Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta and Ranger Suarez could end up in the bullpen while one works in the starting rotation. That leaves two spots. Arano could be a possibility if he’s far enough along in his recovery from elbow surgery. Edgar Garcia, Deolis Guerra and Reggie McClain, all on the 40-man roster, are possibilities, as are non-roster candidates Bud Norris, Anthony Swarzak, Blake Parker and Drew Storen.

Subscribe and rate Phillies Talk:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies