Phillies’ Injury Updates: Big Names On Track to Return Before Opener

Phillies Spring Training
CLEARWATER, FL – FEBRUARY 16: The Phillies pitchers gather together and catch up with one with the palm trees in the background moments before the start of the Philadelphia Phillies spring training workout on February 16, 2019 at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)

Phillies’ baseball is so close, I can smell it. Ahead of the first night game of the Spring, the Phillies released some positive news. After some pretty scary injury news received at different points in Spring Training, manager Joe Girardi released some positive news today. Given the history of injuries within Philly sports teams, this optimism coming from the Phillies’ skipper is a sign of relief.

“It was a good day,” he said before Friday’s game against the New York Yankees in Tampa. “Hopefully it stays that way.”

Joe Girardi, 3/19/21

I agree, Joe. Let’s get into some of the things he shared:

Phillies Opening Day Locked-In Starters:

J.T. Realmuto

Phillies’ All Star catcher is ahead of schedule

When news broke that Realmuto was expected to miss time, all of Philadelphia held their breath. Back on February 18, the star catcher suffered a broken thumb to his throwing hand. He suffered this after blocking a pitch during day two of pitchers and catchers reporting.

There was not much concern around Realmuto missing opening day on April 1st. However, it’s still always good to hear that his rehab is not only just going well- but that he is ahead of schedule. The 29-year-old played in a simulated game today, and has been catching during bullpen sessions as well. Girardi said the thumb was now “stable and healing.” Realmuto got six at-bats in a simulated game on Friday and is throwing up to 150 feet.

Realmuto, 29, signed a five-year, $115.5 million contract to stay with the Phillies this offseason. The $23.1 million average annual value in Realmuto’s deal is the highest for a catcher in Major League Baseball history. The catcher being ready for opening day, and for the good majority of the season, is crucial for the Phillies’ success.

Didi Gregorius

The second best day of this offseason was when the Phillies solidified that shortstop Didi Gregorius was returning. The leading hit getter for the Phillies in 2020 (61) was set to keep his success in Philadelphia rolling. This, of course, was until a wild pitch hit him in the back of the head, putting him into concussion protocol.

A mere three days after the incident, Didi resumed all activities today. He was one positive evaluation away from getting into a game, possibly as early as Saturday, Girardi said.

After a mega year during his first year wearing red pinstripes, the veteran shortstop will also be important to how far the team goes this year.

Phillies’ Pitchers

On the pitching front, there were some mixed reviews. Probable number three starter Zach Eflin was flashing his potential before back issues got in the way. Spencer Howard, who is likely going to be the team’s four or four starter, also was facing some back discomfort. However, the pair are both now up to throwing 120 feet. Each of them could throw in the bullpen as soon as Sunday.

Connor Brogdon, who suffered a rib injury, is set to return as soon as this weekend as well. Manager Joe Girardi noted that he could get in a game this weekend as apart of his rehab. After a strong finish to the 2020 season, Brogdon is looking to be a go-to out of the bullpen during 2021.

On the not-so-positive front, Vince Velasquez is not as close as the other pitchers in terms of rehab. He tweaked an oblique muscle while warming up for a simulated game on Sunday. His return is still unknown at this point, and could even be a candidate for the injured list come opening day.

Other Notables

The Phillies have had a solid offseason. One of the smaller, yet very impactful moves Dave Dombroski made was to bring Brad Miller back to Philadelphia. However, Miller ended up hurting his oblique as well. Luckily, he could be back in games by the end of the upcoming week.

Adam Haseley suffered a strained left adductor (groin) while running from first to third on a 3-2 pitch against the Yankees a couple of weeks ago. According to manager Joe Girardi, he is progressing faster than expected. However, he’s still a long shot to make the opening day roster. This inevitably has opened up the team’s center field competition.

Photo by: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire