According to the initial plan set by the Phillies’ medical staff, Bryce Harper is scheduled to test his injured right elbow Tuesday by throwing in a pregame workout at Citizens Bank Park.
Just don’t expect to see him back out in right field any time soon.
Even in a best-case scenario, one in which Harper is able to throw without discomfort, it’s doubtful he will play defense this week, according to manager Joe Girardi. The Phillies will want Harper to increase the intensity and distance of his throws before putting him back in the outfield.
“I wouldn’t anticipate he’ll be back in the field before the off-day,” Girardi said, referring to next Monday.
That means Harper, diagnosed with an elbow strain, will be the Phillies’ designated hitter for four games at home this week against the Colorado Rockies and a three-game weekend series in New York against the rival Mets.
Harper has been the DH for seven consecutive games, including Sunday night against the Milwaukee Brewers, a role that enabled him to be interviewed for several innings on the ESPN broadcast. If pitchers were still hitting in the National League, it’s likely the Phillies would’ve had to put Harper on the 10-day injured list.
“Thank God for the DH,” Girardi said.
Still, it isn’t how the Phillies intend to use the DH. Rather than having one player occupy the spot, Girardi wants to rotate players through to give them rest from playing defense.
Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos, below-average defenders in the outfield, are expected to get most of the DH at-bats. Instead, Castellanos has started in Harper’s place in right field.
Didi ‘getting closer’
Girardi said Didi Gregorius is “getting closer” to being back in the lineup after getting hit by a pitch on the left hand Tuesday night in Colorado.
Although Gregorius had his bruised hand wrapped Sunday as part of the treatment for a tendon that flared, he took batting practice unencumbered. Girardi suggested Gregorius may even be available as a pinch-hitter.
When Gregorius does return, it will be as the everyday shortstop, according to Girardi. In his absence, versatile infielder Johan Camargo was 7-for-14 with one homer entering Sunday night. Four of Camargo’s hits came Wednesday in Colorado.
“I think what we can do is we can move Camargo around and make sure everyone stays fresh,” Girardi said. “It won’t be a problem. There’ll be plenty of playing time for everybody.”
Except, perhaps, for rookie infielder Bryson Stott.
When the Phillies decided to carry both Stott and Alec Bohm on the opening-day roster, they believed they could find adequate playing time for both. But Stott, hitless in 18 at-bats, had one plate appearance in the last four games and is unlikely to start Monday night against a left-handed pitcher (Colorado’s Kyle Freeland).
Andrew Painter, the Phillies’ first-round pick last year, racked up 14 strikeouts in five scoreless innings Saturday for low-A Clearwater. In three starts so far this season, the 19-year-old right-hander has struck out 30 batters in 12 scoreless innings.
“He’s doing pretty good,” said Girardi, whose son, Dante, played with Painter in high school at Calvary Christian Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Right-hander Mick Abel, the Phillies’ 2020 first-round pick, also pitched well Saturday, with nine strikeouts in five scoreless innings for high-A Jersey Shore. It’s likely Painter will soon join Abel at that level.
J.T. Realmuto made his eighth consecutive start behind the plate and almost certainly will keep the streak going Monday night against Freeland. Girardi said Realmuto will get a day off in the Rockies series. ... Jay Wright and new Villanova men’s basketball coach Kyle Neptune threw ceremonial first pitches, both of which were caught by Girardi. “I think he walked out when he thought it was time,” Girardi said of Wright. “Not everyone really gets to do that. Hall of Fame coach, great coach, great man. He means so much to this area. I’m excited to see him.” ... Kyle Gibson (1-1, 3.57 ERA) will start the series opener against the Rockies at 6:45 p.m. Monday night on NBC Sports Philadelphia+ and WIP-FM (94.1).