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Phillies face depleted bullpen because of injuries

May 29, 2019
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A tarp is secured to the field as a storm moves in ahead of baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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A tarp is secured to the field as a storm moves in ahead of baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Phillies manager Gable Kapler could have draped a stethoscope around his neck in his office that seemed more fit for an urgent care.

“I have notes on injury stuff,” Kapler said Wednesday, not long before Philadelphia’s scheduled game against St. Louis went into a rain delay. “There’s some stuff to report.”

Just a few notes.

One reliever had surgery. Another went on the injured list. Three more relievers may not return until some time in June.

The next call to the bullpen could come on the trade market. Who has a number for Craig Kimbrel?

General manager Matt Klentak knows the Phillies will have to strengthen their bullpen for a serious shot at their first playoff berth since 2011.

“I know that Matt is always looking for help,” Kapler said. “Matt is diligent about improving our roster all the time. My job is to always stay focused on the roster. The guys that we have in our organization, my job is to know them well, not just the guys at the major league level but the guys at the minor league level, as well. I keep focused on that job and let Matt do the great job he consistently does on finding options outside the organization.”

The grim dispatch goes like this:

— RHP Victor Arano had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow and there was no immediate timetable on his return.

— LHP Adam Morgan was placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained left forearm.

— RHP Edubray Ramos (right shoulder stiffness) and RHP Tommy Hunter (flexor strain) both threw bullpen sessions and could return in June.

— RHP David Robertson (right flexor strain) could start throwing next week, with a potential June return.

Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter were already on the injured list, straining what’s left of the bullpen to help keep the Phillies in first place in the NL East. Jose Alvarez is the only lefty in the bullpen.

“It’s not optimal, but we’ll fight through a tough time,” Kapler said.

The Phillies game against St. Louis was delayed by weather with a flash flood warning in effect until late in the night. Genesis Cabrera was set to make his major league debut for the Cardinals against Phillies ace Aaron Nola (5-0, 4.53 ERA). Nola is 3-2, 2.59 in five career starts vs. St. Louis. Cesar Hernandez hit a go-ahead two-run homer to lead the Phillies past the slumping Cardinals 4-3 Tuesday night.

“I think as a team we’re never down, always keep grinding and having good at-bats,” right fielder Bryce Harper said. “I think that’s what makes our team so good. On any given day we can go out there and win a ball game.”

The Phillies were expected to wrap the series with St. Louis on Thursday afternoon before they head to Los Angeles for a three-game series against the Dodgers. One player who will make the trip, starter Nick Pivetta. Pivetta (3-1) allowed three runs and three hits Wednesday against the Cardinals, striking out six in his first start since a demotion to Triple-A after posting an 8.35 ERA in his first four starts. He will start Sunday in Los Angeles — with no guarantee from Kapler he’ll get many more.

“He earned the opportunity and gives the Phillies the best chance to win against the Dodgers. That’s it,” Kapler said. “He’s got to keep performing. He has to continue being a professional and maintaining that confidence.”

The only sign of Odubel Herrera at the ballpark was his image on a hanging display near section 106 on the concourse. His jerseys and game-used merch had all but been banished from the team retail shops. So had his spot in the lineup.

The Phillies were set to play again without Herrera, a day after he was placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball following his arrest in a domestic violence case at an Atlantic City casino.

Herrera’s loss comes with the Phillies holding a 2½-game lead over Atlanta in the NL East headed into Wednesday’s game. Herrera faces a June 17 court appearance on charges of simple assault and knowingly causing bodily injury.

He was arrested at the Golden Nugget casino Monday night.

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All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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A tarp is secured to the field as a storm moves in ahead of baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)