J.T. Realmuto’s right shoulder soreness, which he has managed for the last several weeks, caused him enough discomfort over the weekend to require an anti-inflammatory injection that caused the Phillies catcher to miss Tuesday’s series opener against the Cubs.
The Phillies expect Realmuto to play on Wednesday, but any game in September without one of their top hitters is a big loss.
“You hate not having him. But you can’t play him every day,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s been playing a lot. He had a good day on Sunday. He’s been able to get through it. It’s not exactly what you want at this time of year, but we felt that the rewards would be better than if we didn’t do it.”
Girardi said last Thursday that Realmuto’s shoulder “actually feels better,” so it was a bit surprising that he needed an injection. But Girardi said Tuesday that Realmuto’s shoulder actually flared up Thursday night when he struck out as a pinch hitter to end a 4-3 loss to Colorado.
Realmuto caught the final three games of the series and had an injection after Sunday’s game.
“It seems like every time it’s turning the corner and he’s getting better, he’ll do something, whether it’s a swing and a miss or he’ll dive for a ground ball, that sort of thing,” Girardi said. “... We’re just trying to get him to where we can get it completely gone.”
The Phillies replaced Realmuto with Andrew Knapp behind the plate and Brad Miller at first base. Girardi said Realmuto’s shoulder will not require surgery this offseason and that the team doctor’s said the injection will allow him to “continue for the next 18 to 20 days.”
“He’s had it before. We’ve talked about it,” Girardi said. “He seems to get it every year for a little bit of time, and he is able to get rid of it. But I actually notice it more when he is swinging than anything else.”
Realmuto said after Sunday’s loss that their trouble beating struggling teams like the Rockies stemmed from the Phillies “playing tighter than normal” while teams not in the race could play free of pressure.
That mindset seems concerning as the Phillies end the season playing mostly down teams like the Cubs, who opened a three-game series Tuesday in South Philly.
Does Girardi sense his team playing tight?
“We’ve had these kinds of streaks before and I don’t think anyone would have said we were playing tight,” Girardi said. “On the other hand, teams that aren’t playing in a race are playing loose. Sometimes they have kids that come up and play really loose. They are full of energy and they are trying to prove themselves. But there have been guys on this team that have been through this.”
The Phillies held a moment of silence for Ruly Carpenter, the president of the 1980 World Champions who died Monday at 81.
“Ruly Carpenter was a great friend and a special owner,” said Phillies Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton. “Passionate about winning, we welcomed his presence in the clubhouse and always thought of him as a teammate or an equal and he treated us the same way.”
“The Carpenter family, especially Ruly, left a huge imprint on my life. He was very instrumental in putting the 1980 World Championship team together,” said Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt. “I will remember Ruly most for his honesty, integrity and the friendship we had for over 45 years. Ruly will be missed by everyone whom he touched.”
Alec Bohm, who is sidelined at triple A by a wrist injury, was the Phillies’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which is awarded to the major leaguer “who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.” Bohm’s foundation, which he created in 2019, has helped renovate his local church in Omaha, Neb., and repaired a church in Kenya along with digging a well to supply clean water to 170 people in Uganda. ... Ranger Suarez will start Thursday against Cubs right-hander Alec Mills. The Phillies will use a “bullpen game” on Thursday and Zack Wheeler will start Friday’s series opener in Queens against the Mets.