Mick Abel’s monthlong absence from the mound for low-A Clearwater is related to a shoulder injury that could keep him out for the duration of the minor-league season.
Abel, the Phillies’ top pitching prospect, has been dealing with “a little bit of tendinitis,” president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday. The 20-year-old right-hander hasn’t pitched in a game since July 21.
“He’s doing fine,” Dombrowski said. “Structurally he’s fine. We’re just being very careful.”
Abel, who made his professional debut this season after being drafted in the first round last year, has a 4.43 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 44⅔ innings over 14 starts for Clearwater. The Phillies built up his workload gradually throughout the season. He maxed out with five scoreless innings June 26 against Daytona and Aug. 9 at Bradenton, racking up eight strikeouts in both starts.
Earlier this season, a scout from a National League team said Abel reminded him of “young Roy Halladay.”
The minor-league season runs through Sept. 19 this season, two weeks later than usual because of the delayed start, although the Phillies’ Clearwater affiliate has had 12 games postponed or canceled over the last month because of rain and a COVID-19 spike at its training facility. Dombrowski said the Phillies haven’t decided whether to bring back Abel before the end of the season or to wait until the Florida instructional league begins in October.
As the Phillies plot Abel’s course back to the mound, they have penciled in 2021 first-round pick Andrew Painter for his first professional start on Aug. 27 in a rookie-ball game in Clearwater. Like Abel, Painter was drafted out of high school. The 6-foot-7 right-hander has been training at the Phillies’ facility since he signed last month for $3.9 million.
Eflin to start Thursday
Zach Eflin will return from the injured list and start Thursday night’s series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Eflin, sidelined since July 20 with patellar tendinitis in his right knee, threw a bullpen session and was cleared to return. He threw 31 pitches in 2⅓ scoreless innings Saturday at double-A Reading. Eflin will take the rotation spot previously occupied by lefty Matt Moore.
Hoskins takes a seat
Two days after coming off the injured list and hitting two home runs in San Diego, Rhys Hoskins was on the bench for the opener of a two-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Manager Joe Girardi reiterated that Hoskins is not yet ready to play every day after missing 14 games in a row — and 18 of 21 overall — with a strained left groin. With the Rays set to start a left-hander Wednesday night, the Phillies wanted to be sure the righty-hitting Hoskins could play then.
“We think it’s going to be day on, day off for a little bit,” Girardi said. “I am hoping we can get him [in the lineup] a couple days in a row, but we’re not at that point yet.”
Brad Miller started at first base in Hoskins’ place. Hoskins pinch-hit in the ninth and popped out to end the game.
Left fielder Andrew McCutchen also was not in the lineup after his knee “flared up a little bit” while running in for a fly ball Saturday night in San Diego. Girardi is hopeful McCutchen will be ready to start Wednesday night.
Return of Freddy
The Phillies reinstated infielder Freddy Galvis from the injured list 25 days after acquiring him in a trade-deadline deal with the Baltimore Orioles. Galvis was out since June 26 because of a strained right quadriceps.
Galvis played shortstop, third base, and second base in a five-game rehab assignment last week at triple-A Lehigh Valley. Girardi said he intends to play him “all over the place,” even directing him to begin taking grounders at first base as a potential late-game defensive replacement for Hoskins.
The Phillies also activated reliever Sam Coonrod, as expected, after a two-month absence because of forearm tendinitis. The hard-throwing right-hander has a 4.18 ERA in 27 appearances, but the bullpen roles have changed since he last pitched. With recently acquired closer Ian Kennedy and setup men Archie Bradley and Héctor Neris getting most of the late-game high-leverage situations, Coonrod likely slots into the sixth or seventh innings.
To open roster spots for Galvis and Coonrod, the Phillies optioned reliever Enyel De Los Santos to Lehigh Valley and designated outfielder Jorge Bonifacio for assignment.
Lefty reliever José Alvarado (shoulder) was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment for Lehigh Valley. ... Arizona Diamondbacks lefty Caleb Smith, who was ejected from last Wednesday night’s game against the Phillies for the suspicion of a foreign substance on his glove, was suspended for 10 games by Major League Baseball. He’s appealing the decision. ... Zack Wheeler (10-8, 2.77 ERA) will start Wednesday night.