With the season’s final month less than a week away, it seemed like the Phillies were showing a sense of urgency by sliding Zach Eflin back into the starting rotation for Thursday’s series opener against Arizona after he threw just 31 pitches in a rehab start.
But Eflin — who has been on the injured list for more than a month with knee discomfort — wanted the Phillies to be even more aggressive.
“I pushed to not even go on a minor league rehab assignment,” Eflin said.
Eflin said he’ll be good for roughly 50 pitches on Thursday night, which the Phillies will take as they sacrifice quantity for quality by activating him off the injured list before he’s fully built up in the minors.
If Eflin pitches three or four innings, the Phillies could use Matt Moore — who is being moved to the bullpen — to bridge the middle innings.
“We just felt that he can help us here,” manager Joe Girardi said of Eflin. “It’s the way we could do it. I saw his last start. I thought his stuff was good. We decided to just start him, let him go as long as he can, and we’ll go from there.”
Eflin said he felt no discomfort on Saturday as he pitched 2 1/3 innings with double-A Reading. When healthy, Eflin is one of the staff’s more steady pitchers as he posted an ERA last season that was 11% better than league average.
But he has dealt with knee pain throughout his career and the same injury — patella tendinitis — caused him to have surgery on both knees at the end of the 2016 season. Eflin says for now he’s pain-free and he’ll be a needed boost as the Phillies near September in a playoff race.
“It’ll be fun,” Eflin said. “You have to bring the energy every single day. I’m just happy to finally be a part of it and not sit on the bench and watch and cheerlead. It [stinks] being hurt. It really is a horrible feeling, so I’m happy to be back. That’s for sure.”
Alec Bohm will not return to the majors until he’s ready for an everyday role, Girardi said.
Bohm debuted Tuesday night with triple-A Lehigh Valley and went 0-for-4. The Phillies started Ronald Torreyes at third on Wednesday and plan to use him, Freddy Galvis, and Brad Miller there. It seems like Bohm’s trip to the minors could be for the rest of the season.
“No, it doesn’t mean it -- if he goes 19-for-20 and everything gets ironed out,” Girardi said. “No, we want him to go, play and have some fun and relax a little bit and get going again.”
Girardi said the Phillies still see Bohm as a third baseman, which is what general manager Sam Fuld said Sunday when asked if the Phillies will try him in left field during his time in Allentown. Bohm graded this season as one of baseball’s worst defenders and had the lowest defensive runs saved among all third basemen.
“I know he had some struggles there. But I thought last year he played pretty decently at third base,” Girardi said. “This year, it has been somewhat of a struggle for him. So we still consider him a third baseman.”
The Rays presented Phillies reliever Jose Alvarado with his American League championship ring during batting practice. Alvarado, who spent last season with Tampa Bay, could return Wednesday from the injured list. ... The Phillies plan to play Rhys Hoskins on Friday and Sunday after he started at first base on Wednesday night. They do not feel comfortable playing him on back-to-back days because of his groin injury and Girardi said it’s “possible” it would have kept Hoskins on the injured list if it wasn’t late in the season. … Andrew McCutchen returned to the lineup after two days off to rest his sore knee, which put him on the injured list last month. “There are times where he goes through and doesn’t feel something. There’s times when he goes through and will feel a little pinch and then it will go away,” Girardi said. ... Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio cleared waivers and was sent to triple A after being designated for assignment. ... Eflin will face Arizona right-hander Zac Gallen on Thursday.