DETROIT -- Tommy Hunter has thrown his last pitch for the Phillies this season and possibly for good.
Hunter had surgery Tuesday to repair the flexor tendon in his right arm. Dr. James Andrews performed the season-ending procedure, during which he determined that the ulnar collateral ligament in Hunter’s elbow was not damaged, according to manager Gabe Kapler.
The Phillies signed Hunter to a two-year, $18 million contract before last season. He posted a 3.80 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 64 innings last season, but he injured his flexor tendon in spring training and was limited this year to only 5⅓ scoreless innings over five appearances.
“It’s tough,” Kapler said. “If you think about how we viewed him in 2019, it was among our highest-leverage relievers who could get left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters out and give us multiple innings. We have been without that in our pen, which has hurt us, and we’re going to have to be without that going forward, which will be a challenge.”
The Phillies have been unlucky with signing free-agent relievers over the last few years.
Pat Neshek (two years, $16.25 million before last season) and David Robertson (two years, $23 million before this year) have combined to make only 27 appearances this season. Neshek won't pitch again until at least September and could be out for the rest of the season with a groin injury. Robertson, sidelined since April with a flexor strain, is scheduled to throw live batting practice Wednesday at the Phillies' spring-training facility in Clearwater, Fla., and won't return until at least next month.
“The bullpen in general hasn’t performed the way we would’ve hoped, and certainly that’s been a function of injury,” general manager Matt Klentak said. “The part that makes it difficult is that there have been a variety of different types of injuries. It’s not just one thing that they all have that could be relatively diagnosable about why it’s happening. There have been a laundry list of different types of injuries.”
Eflin ready for Braves
Right-hander Zach Eflin will take his regular turn in the rotation, likely Friday night, against the Atlanta Braves. Eflin complained that his body began to “feel heavy” during his last start against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Earlier in the month, he said he struggled with his stamina after a 13-pitch at-bat against Braves leadoff man Ronald Acuna Jr. in the first inning.
Kapler downplayed the situation, referring to Eflin as “totally healthy” and insisting the Phillies have “no concerns” about his stamina.
“Guys sometimes get fatigued in the middle of a season,” Kapler said. “This is not unique to Ef.”
Jean Segura had an MRI exam on Monday in Philadelphia that confirmed a bruised heel. The shortstop was not in the lineup Tuesday night, and his availability over the next few days will be determined by how much pain he is able to tolerate. ... Utility infielder Sean Rodriguez (abdominal strain) moved closer to being reinstated from the injured list by hitting, running and taking grounders Tuesday. ... Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff (shoulder) is scheduled for a bullpen session Wednesday and live batting practice on Saturday. He could make a minor-league rehab start on July 30. ... Reliever Fernando Salas cleared waivers and was outrighted to triple-A Lehigh Valley.