CLEARWATER, Fla. -- J.T. Realmuto took another step in the recovery from his fractured right thumb.
He had the hard cast removed this week, following an examination with doctors. Realmuto’s thumb has been placed in a splint, which allows for mobility in the fingers and thumb. He cannot hit or throw yet, but the Phillies and Realmuto said a couple weeks ago that if he had the cast removed this week that he would have enough time to be ready by Opening Day.
That remains his prognosis.
“It’s the hopeful part that he can be there Opening Day,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said following Friday’s 3-0 victory over the Pirates in a Grapefruit League game at BayCare Ballpark. “It allows us to be more aggressive in the strengthening part of his rehab. Now, he can move it around and do some things. He went through a throwing motion with something on his arm. He can just do more, but he’s still not really throwing a baseball or hitting.”
Realmuto is hitting one-handed, for whatever it is worth.
“We’re obviously going to be cautious with it,” Realmuto said on Feb. 18. “I feel pretty confident about those two weeks -- it’ll be healed, because it already feels quite a bit better than the day it happened. It’s definitely going to heal on its own and I’m confident I’ll be back by Opening Day. But you can’t set that in stone, just because you never know what can happen. We’re going to take our time with it. If I have to miss the first three days of the season, we’d rather do that than absolutely rush back and have something linger a little longer.”
If Realmuto needs more time, Andrew Knapp will start in his place. The only other catcher on the 40-man roster is Rafael Marchan. He has not played since Sunday, when he tweaked a hamstring. He is expected to miss 3 1/2 weeks.
Non-roster invitee Jeff Mathis is the next catcher on the depth chart.
98, 99, 100 mph
The radar gun does not mean much this early in spring, except when it does.
Phillies pitchers showed plenty of velocity against the Pirates. Right-hander Spencer Howard’s fastball hit at least 96.1 mph six times in one inning of work. He hit 96.1 mph or better 11 times out of 248 fastballs last season. Howard came into camp healthy and stronger, and ready to compete for a job in the rotation.
“The other day when I faced him, it was Spencer,” said Bryce Harper, who faced Howard in batting practice at the Carpenter Complex. “It was electric. He’s going to develop. He’s going to be our guy. It’s there. We’ve just got to keep him healthy.”
Left-hander José Alvarado threw two 100 mph sinkers. Right-hander Sam Coonrod threw a 98.8 mph fastball. Right-hander Conor Brogdon touched 95.2 mph. Left-hander JoJo Romero hit 97.1 mph. The average fastball from Phillies relievers last season was 92.5 mph.
• Outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz tweaked a hamstring on Thursday. Like Marchan, he might miss 3 1/2 weeks.
• Rain is in the forecast Saturday, so Aaron Nola is scheduled to pitch a simulated game in Clearwater. Right-hander Adonis Medina is scheduled to start against the Blue Jays in Dunedin.