WASHINGTON -- Luke Williams hasn’t needed Netflix or video games to stay occupied during this road trip with the Phillies.
He has the Olympics.
Williams, after all, helped Team USA secure an opportunity to compete in Japan by going 8-for-18 in the qualifying tournament in June in Florida. The U.S. won all four games and earned a berth in the first baseball competition at the Olympics since 2008.
You better believe then, that Williams stayed up late Tuesday night after the Phillies’ 5-4 victory here to watch Team USA close out a 3-1 victory over the Dominican Republic and advance to the semifinals. And he was planning on getting up early Thursday, too, for the 6 a.m. first pitch against South Korea.
“I’ve watched every game,” Williams said, laughing. “I don’t want to be waking up and seeing it on social media. I was like, I’ll be up. I can always go right back to sleep after. It’s just been so fun to watch.”
Williams would be in Tokyo this week if not for his regular job.
Players who are on a major-league 40-man roster aren’t eligible for the Olympics. The Phillies added Williams to the roster in June when they called him up. He capped his first major-league start by hitting a walkoff homer June 9 against the Atlanta Braves and was dubbed “Captain America” by pitcher Zach Eflin.
Lately, and particularly with Andrew McCutchen out with a left knee injury, Williams has been part of an outfield timeshare with Travis Jankowski. Williams starts mostly against left-handed pitchers, which limits his playing time. He has gotten only 25 plate appearances since the All-Star break and doesn’t have a hit since July 21, a span of 12 plate appearances.
But playing in the majors -- and in the midst of a race to win the NL East, no less -- is precisely where Williams wants to be. He checks in with his Team USA teammates in a group text that has remained active since the qualifying tournament.
“I got to know so many of those guys just through the two weeks I was there,” Williams said. “I reached out, wished them good luck at the beginning, and shot them a few texts here and there. It’s a little tough with the time difference.
“But I had a great opportunity to help the team qualify for the Olympics, so I take a lot of pride in that. I’m just so excited to watch them.”
The Phillies recalled left-hander Damon Jones from triple-A Lehigh Valley and optioned catcher Rafael Marchan. Jones gives them a 14th pitcher to help complete the stretch of 24 games in as many days that ends Sunday. ... Rookie lefty Bailey Falter threw a light bullpen session, the latest step in his return from COVID-19. ... After throwing a scoreless inning Tuesday night in his first minor-league rehab appearance, reliever Seranthony Domínguez will likely pitch again Friday, according to manager Joe Girardi. ... Aaron Nola (7-6, 4.30 ERA) is scheduled to start the series finale Thursday against Nationals right-hander Joe Ross (5-9, 4.00).