J.T. Realmuto did not fly with the Phillies to Florida on Thursday, but the team remains hopeful that the catcher can return this weekend after being placed on the COVID-19-related injured list.
The Phillies sent Realmuto away from Nationals Park on Thursday morning after he reported feeling sick during Wednesday night’s game. Realmuto tested negative for the coronavirus, but the league’s safety protocols forced him to be quarantined.
The Phillies begin a three-game series on Friday in Dunedin, Fla., against the Toronto Blue Jays and there is no minimum amount of time a player must stay on the COVID-19 list. Realmuto could return as soon as Friday if he is cleared by Major League Baseball.
The catcher had a fever and a stomachache during Wednesday night’s 5-2 win in Washington while sitting in the dugout after his sore knee held him out of the lineup.
“You can’t let someone with a stomachache and a small fever walk around your clubhouse today,” manager Joe Girardi said before Thursday’s 5-1 loss. “In a normal year, you wouldn’t worry about it. But you can’t do that now.”
The Phillies listed Realmuto as “day to day” with a bruised knee after he was lifted from Tuesday night’s game, when he was hit in the knee by a foul tip. The Phillies were hoping Realmuto would be able to start Thursday’s series finale but had to shift their plans when he felt sick. Andrew Knapp started a second straight game and Rafael Marchan was promoted from triple A.
“The protocol is through the league,” Girardi said. “I’m not sure when we’ll get him back.”
No IL for Gregorius
Didi Gregorius is expected to miss a few more games with the elbow stiffness that kept him out of Thursday’s lineup, but the Phillies do not yet believe the injury is enough to place the shortstop on the injured list.
Gregorius left Wednesday night’s game in the fifth inning after feeling discomfort in the same elbow that cost him two games last month when he was hit by a pitch.
“It just kind of acted up,” Girardi said. “He didn’t feel it in batting practice. He must have taken a swing in the game that he felt it and he told us. I think it was after his second at-bat maybe. And that’s when we made the switch. I imagine he might be out a couple days, like the last time.”
More fans in South Philly
The Phillies will increase the seating capacity at Citizens Bank Park by 5,000 fans later this month before opening the stadium to 100% capacity on June 12.
The city announced earlier this week that it was loosening coronavirus restrictions and that stadiums could have up to 50% capacity starting May 21. The Phillies will increase their capacity from 11,000 fans to 16,000 fans when they begin a three-game series on May 21 against Boston.
They’ll be able to host that many fans for nine games before the city said they can fill the stadium on June 12 against the Yankees. The Yankees drew an average of 43,244 fans per game when they visited South Philadelphia in 2018.
Fans will be still required to wear face coverings, and tailgating will be permitted in the parking lots. A limited number of seating pods will be available, the Phillies said, for fans who prefer to remain in a socially-distanced environment.
The Phillies said they will be in touch with season-ticket holders regarding their seating locations, and single-game tickets are on sale for games through June 10. The tickets for the remaining games go on sale May 25.
The Blue Jays are playing the first part of their home schedule at their Florida spring-training home before moving to Buffalo next month. Like last season, the Jays are unable to play in Canada because of the country’s travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. The ballpark in Dunedin is just six miles from the Phillies’ spring home. ... Vince Velasquez will start Friday’s series opener against left-hander Steven Matz. Aaron Nola will start Saturday and Chase Anderson will start Sunday. The Jays have not named a starter for Saturday. Left-hander Robbie Ray will start Sunday.