NEW YORK — The Phillies optioned relievers Damon Jones and Cristopher Sánchez to triple A after Sunday night’s game to shrink their roster in compliance with Major League Baseball rules.
MLB and the Players Association agreed that teams could carry 28 players through May 1, then had to reduce the roster to 26 players.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi indicated before the game that the team would send down two relievers, including one long reliever. With Zack Wheeler up to 90 pitches in his most recent outing, and Ranger Suárez up to 97 pitches, the Phillies starters seem to be in regular-season shape. The Phillies were carrying two long relievers in right-hander Nick Nelson and Sánchez, a lefty.
Because most of the other starters are able to go at least six innings, there wasn’t a need to carry two pitchers to bridge those middle innings to the back end of the bullpen.
Sánchez struggled more out of the two. In three outings entering Sunday night, he allowed five earned runs and five hits, walking five, and striking out eight. Nelson has had one rough outing — on April 15 in Miami, when he allow three earned runs in two innings of work — but has bounced back nicely since then. In his next three outings, he did not allow an earned run. He has a 3.60 ERA over 10 innings pitched so far.
Jones, also a lefty, has only five innings worth of big-league experience between this season and last. He’s struggled over that span, giving up five earned runs, while hitting three batters and walking seven with five strikeouts.
Right fielder Bryce Harper, who hasn’t played in the field since April 16 because of a mild arm strain, is expected to be re-evaluated by the Phillies’ training staff next week. A throwing program could emerge from there. In the meantime, Harper will continue to DH, with no clear timetable for his return to the outfield.