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Neshek experiences setback in recovery

Reliever's return timetable unclear; Morgan progressing; Alfaro, Altherr to see more playing time
May 9, 2018

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies signed Pat Neshek to a two-year, $16.5 million contract in December to be an integral part of the bullpen, but more than a month into the season he has not thrown a pitch.It is unclear when he will.Neshek, 37, recently experienced a setback throwing in the

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies signed Pat Neshek to a two-year, $16.5 million contract in December to be an integral part of the bullpen, but more than a month into the season he has not thrown a pitch.
It is unclear when he will.
Neshek, 37, recently experienced a setback throwing in the bullpen. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park that Neshek suffered a "mild flexor strain" in his right forearm. Kapler said Neshek will not throw for "another week or so, at least."
"It's kind of a wait-and-see thing," Kapler said.
The Phillies placed Neshek on the 10-day disabled list on March 30 with a strained right shoulder. Kapler said the shoulder is OK.
Fortunately for the Phillies, they have not missed Neshek. The Phillies' bullpen entered Wednesday with a 3.08 ERA, which is the fifth-best mark in baseball. Not a single Phillies reliever has a 4.00 ERA or higher.
"I'm empathetic to his position," Kapler said. "He's been working his [butt] off for a long time to get ready to make an impact in our bullpen. He's an integral part of everything we're doing around here. I think everybody on the team loves him as a dude and thinks he's going to be big for us this season and the next couple."
Morgan's back is improving
Left-hander Adam Morgan (2.45 ERA in 17 appearances) landed on the DL on Monday with a strained back. He injured himself lifting weights. Morgan had a MRI on Tuesday. He said he played catch Wednesday and he feels much better.
He is optimistic he can be activated as early as May 17.
Alfaro, Altherr earn their time
The Phillies expected a near 50-50 split with playing time at catcher, but Jorge Alfaro has surged ahead of Andrew Knapp. Alfaro has started 22 times. Knapp, who started Wednesday, has started 14 times. Alfaro entered the game hitting .222 with four home runs, nine RBIs and a .663 OPS. Alfaro also has one of the strongest arms among catchers in baseball and has improved behind the plate, particularly with his pitch framing. Knapp is hitting .176 with two RBIs and a .492 OPS.

"I'll say very directly, Alfaro has earned the right to get some more reps behind the plate," Kapler said. "How many more? Not sure. But more than, like, a very even split."
Aaron Altherr also figured to share more time in the outfield with Nick Williams, but Altherr has started 24 games. Williams has started 14.
Altherr is hitting .209 with four home runs, 19 RBIs and a .731 OPS, but he has hit .319 with a .953 OPS in his previous 15 games. Williams is hitting .219 with one home run, five RBIs and a .593 OPS. He has four hits in his last 10 at-bats.

"Same thing for Stretch," Kapler said about Altherr. "He's earned the right to get a little bit more than an even split, at the very least. They've been that successful. They've earned it."
Honorary bat girl for Sunday
The Phillies will have an honorary bat girl Sunday for Mother's Day in support of MLB's annual "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative. The Phillies selected Pam Hall, who is the organization's director of landscaping and site work operations. Hall has been a Phillies employee for more than 17 years. She overcame breast cancer after being diagnosed in 2016.
"Coming to work to see my Phillies family provided a much-needed semblance of normalcy to what was otherwise a nightmarish time," said Hall, who will throw the ceremonial first pitch. "I'm grateful to my staff for stepping up to the plate when I couldn't, and for the encouragement I received from the entire Phillies organization."
In addition to the honorary bat girl, the Phillies will wear special caps highlighted by a pink crown and team color brim, and uniforms with a pink ribbon on the chest. Some players will wear pink socks and use pink bats.
The honorary bat girl program was introduced in 2009. The initiative raises awareness about breast cancer, while raising funds to support breast cancer research. For more information, please visit
Extra bases
Right-hander Mark Leiter (strained right forearm) made a rehab appearance Wednesday with Class A Advanced Clearwater. In 1 2/3 innings, he allowed no runs or hits, walking one while striking out five.
Shortstop J.P. Crawford (strained right forearm) continues to hit off the practice tee and field ground balls.
Right-hander Ben Lively was activated off the 10-day DL and optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.