As pitchers and catchers report, Matt Harrison is out
Matt Harrison has a locker and a number, but the highest-paid Phillies pitcher was missing Wednesday when pitchers and catchers reported, furthering the notion that he may never throw a pitch for his new team.
The Phillies have excused Harrison, who recently saw a back specialist, from spring training.
"The truth is we are not expecting him to be here anytime soon, if at all, this year," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said. "If things go well, we'll be happy to get him back. But the reality is we're in a wait-and-see mode."
The unsaid part: The Phillies stand to benefit if Harrison remains sidelined because his contract is insured.
The Phillies assumed the remaining $32 million on the 30-year-old lefthander's contract last summer as part of the Cole Hamels trade with Texas to enhance the prospect package in return. They immediately placed Harrison on the 60-day disabled list with a back injury when the trade was completed.
Harrison has made just nine starts in the last three seasons. He underwent spinal fusion surgery in June 2014. The insurance policy could allow the Phillies to recoup some money for time missed due to injury.
On Wednesday, Harrison's locker at Bright House Field was empty.
Harrison will make $13.2 million this season and another $13.2 million in 2017. The team has an option to pay him $13.25 million in 2018, but the Phillies can buy out that year of the contract by paying Harrison $2 million.
The Phillies have never totally eliminated Harrison's chances of pitching, but that could be for insurance purposes. Klentak, again on Wednesday, carefully chose his words.
Harrison has a 4.21 ERA in 135 career major-league games, 103 of which were starts. He was an All-Star in 2012.
The only other pitcher or catcher missing at Wednesday's mandatory report date was righthanded reliever Yoervis Medina. Visa issues could force him to miss the first two weeks of camp.