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Phils place Neshek on DL with shoulder strain

Kapler says bullpen moves in opener were 'well thought out'; Alfaro starts season on bench
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

ATLANTA -- It has been a bad week for the Phillies' veteran relievers.

On Friday, the team announced it had placed right-hander Pat Neshek on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder. Four days ago, it was announced that right-hander Tommy Hunter would open the season on the DL with a strained hamstring. The Phillies signed both pitchers to a combined $34.25 million in December.

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ATLANTA -- It has been a bad week for the Phillies' veteran relievers.

On Friday, the team announced it had placed right-hander Pat Neshek on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder. Four days ago, it was announced that right-hander Tommy Hunter would open the season on the DL with a strained hamstring. The Phillies signed both pitchers to a combined $34.25 million in December.

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"For me, it could be something serious, I think, and that's why they're taking more of a precaution with me," Neshek said.

But Neshek, 37, added that he thinks the injury is "not anything major." Either way, he said he does not know when he will return. The Phillies recalled right-hander Yacksel Rios to take his place on the roster. Rios threw two-thirds of an inning in Friday's 5-4, 11-inning win over the Braves, allowing one hit and striking out one in the scoreless appearance.

The Phillies could have used Neshek in Thursday's bullpen meltdown against the Braves. Instead, he watched like everybody else.

"It's terrible," Neshek said. "I went in yesterday and they looked at me and recommended to [manager] Gabe [Kapler] that I get a day off. So Gabe came up to me about an hour before the game and he said, 'I don't want you to pitch today.' You get this high level of excitement and then you're not pitching. Everyone is excited and you're just sitting there. Of course, [the loss] happens and you just feel like a bum at the end."

Neshek said he started feeling something in the back of his shoulder in the last week of Spring Training.

"I just haven't been getting much better for the last few days, so it kind of worries me a little bit, and it's not really helping the team," Neshek said.

Kapler praises the process
Kapler admitted that Thursday's 8-5 loss stung, but he remained resolute that the Phillies made the right moves, most notably removing Aaron Nola in the sixth inning after just 68 pitches, despite the results. He was asked if he thinks the players in the clubhouse understood why those moves were made.

"That's a constant work in progress, and it's a constant commitment to education and a commitment to the long view," Kapler said. "Like I said, we're not going to get caught up in the emotion of when you make really good decisions and work a really strong process and don't have a good outcome, because that's coming, too, and we expect that to come. It's, 'Hey guys, we're going to strip out the emotion from our decision making so that we can make rational and well-thought-out decisions,' and last night's decisions were rational, well thought out and way out in advance."

Video: PHI@ATL: Phillies discuss tough 8-5 loss to Braves

Does Kapler see a time when he might regret a decision or two?

"Yes," he said. "I'm a human being, and more than anything else, I will question if we worked a very strong process. And that's the thing I have the most confidence in today when I walked into this building. Prior to last night's game, we worked a very strong process, and prior to today's game, we have worked a very strong process."

Where is Alfaro?
Jorge Alfaro worked hard this offseason to become a quicker, stronger and better catcher. Phillies coaches praised him this spring for those improvements.

But Alfaro, the Phillies' No. 7 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, found himself on the bench in the season's first two games. Andrew Knapp has started instead.

"[Kapler] has explained to me how things are going to work," Alfaro said through the team's interpreter. "It's all about matchups and numbers. It's what's best for the team. Sometimes I'm going to be the best player for the team. Sometimes I'm not. I understand that. I respect his decision.

"Obviously, I want to play every day. I'm a competitor. If you were to ask me, I would say, 'Yeah, put Jorge Alfaro in the game every day,' because I'm a competitor. I want to play every day. But I understand that things are going to work differently here."

Video: PHI@PIT: Alfaro scores two on double to right field

Kapler indicated Thursday that Alfaro and Knapp could share catching duties throughout the season. The first-year skipper said he could see Alfaro and Knapp each starting three times on the six-game road trip to start the season. If so, that means Alfaro should start three of the next four games starting on Sunday.

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

Philadelphia Phillies, Jorge Alfaro, Pat Neshek, Yacksel Rios