If you’re looking for J.T. Realmuto on Monday night, don’t bother checking behind home plate.
Despite having what Phillies manager Joe Girardi described as “a good day” of taking swings in the batting cage Sunday, Realmuto won’t catch Zack Wheeler in the opener of a four-game, three-day series at Nationals Park. He has missed 10 games with a strained left hip flexor.
“I would not catch J.T. tomorrow. He’s not ready to catch,” Girardi said. “But we feel that he’s making progress, and as soon as we can get him back there, we will.”
Girardi initially hoped Realmuto would be ready to play over the weekend. Realmuto hasn’t had a setback, according to Girardi, but the injury also hasn’t improved as quickly as expected.
It’s possible that Realmuto could return as a designated hitter, although Girardi wasn’t sure.
“That’s something that I’ll have to wait and see how he is when he gets to the ballpark,” said Girardi, who noted that Realmuto hasn’t been available in a pinch-hitting situation yet.
In Realmuto’s absence, Andrew Knapp has gone 5-for-20 (.250) with a .360 on-base percentage and five RBI in seven starts behind the plate. Rookie Rafael Marchan, who started Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, is 4-for-8 with one home run in three starts.
With seven games remaining and a half-game lead over Cincinnati, Milwaukee and San Francisco for a wild-card berth, the Phillies met Sunday’s deadline to submit a 40-man player pool for the postseason.
The list includes several injured players whose status for the playoffs has not yet been determined: first baseman Rhys Hoskins (elbow), starting pitchers Jake Arrieta (hamstring) and Spencer Howard (shoulder), and lefty reliever Jose Alvarez (groin).
Twenty-one pitchers are on the postseason pool: Aaron Nola, Wheeler, Zach Eflin, Arrieta, Howard, Vince Velasquez, Hector Neris, Tommy Hunter, Adam Morgan, JoJo Romero, David Phelps, Blake Parker, David Hale, Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree, Alvarez, Ranger Suarez, Connor Brogdon, Adonis Medina, Ramon Rosso, and Garrett Cleavinger.
The Phillies will also carry four catchers (Realmuto, Knapp, Marchan, Jonathan Lucroy); eight infielders (Hoskins, Didi Gregorius, Alec Bohm, Jean Segura, Scott Kingery, Phil Gosselin, Nick Maton, Ronald Torreyes); and seven outfielders (Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Roman Quinn, Adam Haseley, Jay Bruce, Mickey Moniak, Mikie Mahtook).
Teams must submit a 28-man active roster before each round of the postseason. If a player is injured during a series, he can be replaced on the roster but is then ineligible for the subsequent round. Because teams will be quarantined during the playoffs, the non-active players on each team will travel.