Jose Alvarez, the most reliable reliever in an unreliable Phillies bullpen, was carted off the field Thursday afternoon after he was hit in the groin by a 105-mph line drive.
The injury seemed gruesome and Alvarez said it was “pretty bad,” but he only expects to miss a few days. He left the ballpark for an ultrasound and flew with the Phillies to Atlanta, where they begin a three-game series on Friday.
“It hit me in my private parts. It’s a pain like that’s hard to describe,” Alvarez said. “But thank God I feel much better now. So everything was good in the hospital. Nothing wrong. Nothing bad.”
Alvarez dropped to the grass in pain after being hit by the line drive from Lourdes Gurriel, but managed to recover the ball and throw to first for the final out of the fifth inning. Alvarez said he does not wear a protective cup, but will consider it now.
Gurriel was the lone batter Alvarez faced Thursday as the Phillies intended for him to face a left-handed heavy lineup in the sixth. Instead, they turned to Tommy Hunter and the right-hander allowed the tying run. An inning later, Deolis Guerra allowed the winning run in another rough game for the bullpen with the highest ERA in baseball.
“Obviously we know everything that’s going on right now. Obviously, we don’t want that,” Alvarez said. “We want to do a better job and everything. I think this game is about adjustments. The guys we’ve got in the bullpen, some guys got a lot of experience. They know how it is about adjustments. We’ve got a month and 10 more days for the season. I think we still have a chance. I think we’re going to make the big adjustment by the end of the season.”
Alvarez has allowed just one run in eight appearances this season and had the bullpen’s second-lowest ERA last year. Since joining the Phillies before last season, Alvarez has allowed just four homers to left-handed hitters. The Phillies acquired Alvarez from the Angels for Luis Garcia in a swap of relievers who had exhausted minor-league options.
It was a rather anonymous transaction that has paid off for the Phillies, providing arguably their best bullpen addition of the last two seasons. But if the Phillies are to climb to the postseason, they’ll need more pitchers to emerge the way Alvarez did.
They’ve added a cast of relievers from the minors this season, but none have yet to contribute much. The pitchers claimed off waivers have been inefficient. The Phillies bullpen seems to be running on fumes. And now their most reliable arm is down for at least a few days. Now would be a good time for someone to emerge the way Alvarez did.
“They come up to the big leagues right now in a tough moment when they don’t have any minor leagues,” Alvarez said. “So it’s tough to come up and play at the highest level when you only are facing your own guys in the camp in Lehigh. I think that’s a big part we have to think about. But if they’re here, they’re here for some reason. I trust all my guys. I trust we’re going to make the big adjustment when it really matters. It doesn’t mean the games before didn’t matter, but I hope we’re going to make it.”
The Phillies reinstated righthander Reggie McClain from the injured list, recalled lefthander Cole Irvin from Lehigh Valley, and optioned outfielder Kyle Garlick and righthander Ramos Rosso to Lehigh Valley. ... Left-hander JoJo Romero was the extra player added for the doubleheader. ... Bryce Harper’s homer in the first inning of the first game was the first homer by a Phillies player in a major-league game in Buffalo since Jack Clements homered on July 4, 1885. ... Aaron Nola will start Friday’s series opener in Atlanta against Max Fried.