Will the Phillies be deprived of four key players on opening day?

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The COVID-19 specter will weigh on the entire Major League Baseball 60-game season, which is expected to start in three weeks.

Heck, he’s already hanging over the Phillies training camp.

The Phils will officially start their three-week training period on Friday. They will use Citizens Bank Park and the fields across the street at FDR Park.

The Phils have drawn up a list of 54 men for the camp – it can reach 60 – but at least four players will not be there. Second base player Scott Kingery and launchers Hector Neris, Ranger Suarez and Tommy Hunter have all been placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Tuesday, and will not be eligible to return until the end of next week. earlier.

No specific reason or injury was given for placing any of the four players on the IL – baseball injuries are generally disclosed – and this is essentially confirmation that the four are dealing with something related to COVID-19 – either a positive test, symptoms of the virus or possibly human contact with an already infected person.

“What I can tell you is that they are on the injured list, and that’s about all I can tell you,” said manager Joe Girardi on Thursday afternoon. “MLB has given protocols on how to manage it. ”

For reasons of medical confidentiality, teams are prohibited from specifically speaking about COVID-19 cases.

But Girardi was able to answer questions related to baseball about the players in question. Of particular relevance: will these four players be ready for the opening of the season on July 23 or 24?

“I don’t have a schedule for these players,” said Girardi. “I can’t really answer this question. As soon as I have an answer, I will give it to you. ”

So is it at least a possibility that one or more of these players may not be ready for the first game?

“I think you have to look at all the possibilities,” said Girardi.

Another indication that Kingery, Suarez, Neris and Hunter are facing something related to COVID-19: Girardi said no player has reported camping with new injuries. Relievers Seranthony Dominguez and David Robertson are both on the 60-day injured list with reported elbow injuries. Robertson had surgery on Tommy John in August and is looking forward to returning this season; Dominguez will be operated on by Tommy John in the coming days. His elbow injury, suffered in June 2019, will ultimately have an impact on three seasons.

It is very possible that Kingery, Neris, Suarez and Hunter are, at the moment, in perfect health. However, a COVID-19 IL player must pass a negative test twice and pass a medical examination before being able to return to the group. This could take some time and possibly prevent players from getting enough training rehearsals at camp to be considered ready for the opening day.

The possibility of not having Kingery, Neris, Suarez and Hunter at the start of the season is significant.

Kingery is the team’s second baseman.

Neris is the closest to the team.

Hunter is an experienced installation man who takes the ball.

Suarez was a late season finder in the bullpen last year and a contender for the fifth starter position in March.

With an expanded roster, the Phillies could connect second base in several ways if Kingery is not ready for the first game. Jean Segura could play there and rookie Alec Bohm could take a look at the third – if the Phillies wanted to start his stopwatch on day 1. Holding it for a week would give the Phillies another year of control before Bohm becomes a free player. agent.

The Phils also have a bunch of other players in the camp (Neil Walker, Josh Harrison, Phil Gosselin, Logan Forsythe) who can play second.

The riser enclosure would take a hit without three scheduled contributors, especially Neris, but the Phils have 29 other pitchers in the camp, so there will be choices. In a season of 60 games, each game is vital, each victory and each loss is amplified and multiplied. Now isn’t necessarily the time to start experimenting, but if Girardi was willing to do it … might it be worth taking a closer look at Vince Velasquez if Neris is running out of time?

Time will tell how long Kingery, Neris, Suarez and Hunter will be absent.

And don’t think there will be no more players showing up on mysterious and unexplained journeys on the injured list.

COVID-19 will weigh on this entire season.

This is already affecting the Phillies training camp.

“Do I think there will be players who will get COVID-19? Absolutely, ”said Girardi. “I think with the protocols that MLB has with player testing, the protocols before you get to the stadium, and the protocols that you do while you’re at the stadium, tracking the contacts we make, I think we will have cases. “I hope they will be really containable and we can withdraw that.

“To me, it really comes down to how we are socially responsible as an industry, a state and a country. I think we can do it. ”

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