Phillies to resume play vs. Yanks tonight

August 3rd, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Joe Girardi looks at the calendar and sees a multitude of challenges ahead for the Phillies.

It will not be easy. He knows it.

“I don't know how that's going to play out,” he said Saturday. “But it seems the landscape of our game is changing every week and we're having to overcome some hurdles, so we're not in this alone. … I believe that players have the ability to rise to the occasion all the time and do extraordinary things, and I like our club a lot.”

The Phillies have not played since Sunday’s series finale against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park as Major League Baseball postponed the club’s games “out of an abundance of caution” due to the Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak. The league announced Saturday that the Phillies will resume play with a four-game home-and-home series beginning Monday against the Yankees. The team announced on Monday morning that it had received the results of Sunday's COVID-19 testing, and there were no new positive results. The team will travel to New York today and play Monday and Tuesday at Yankee Stadium and Wednesday and Thursday at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies were scheduled to play the Marlins in Miami in a three-game series beginning Tuesday. That series will be rescheduled for a later date.

No Phillies player has tested positive for COVID-19. One Phillies coach, one home clubhouse attendant and one visiting clubhouse attendant tested positive, but the league said two of those three tests were false positives. The two false positives from Wednesday’s tests caused the league to postpone this weekend’s series against the Blue Jays. On Sunday, the team announced that there were no new positive results from Saturday's testing and that the team would work out on Sunday.

“It is unclear if the third individual contracted COVID-19 from Marlins players and staff based on the timing of the positive test,” the league said in a statement.

The Phillies will thus try to play 57 games in 56 days.

“It’s happened before where teams have had a lot of games in days,” Girardi said. “But the one thing is they’re probably a little bit more built up. But they might be a little more tired than our group is at this point. I think we're more concerned about Monday, right? Can we just get through Monday? Then, you get through Monday and you have [Tropical Storm Isaias] coming, right? So, we have a lot more things to worry about than whether we’re going to get 57 games in 56 days. We probably have to worry about Games 1, 2, 3 and 4 here with what we've got going on.”

The Phillies worked out Saturday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. It was just their second workout since Sunday.

The lack of work poses challenges, both competitively and physically. The Phillies will face Yankees ace Gerrit Cole on Monday. He is difficult to hit under the best circumstances, but Phillies hitters will be rusty. Then there are Phillies pitchers. Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Vince Velasquez pitched last weekend against the Marlins. Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin have not pitched this season. Arrieta pitched in a scrimmage on July 22, with Eflin pitching in a simulated game July 23.

There are injury concerns with both his starters and relievers. Girardi needs to be cautious.

“We knew there were going to be challenges,” he said. “I give our pitchers credit. They’ve kept up trying to do as much as they could by themselves. I’ve heard guys throwing baseballs against mattresses and brick walls on the outside of their homes or wherever they are. It is challenging, but we knew that coming into the season. We knew that we had to be somewhat prepared for anything and I think our guys have done a pretty good job of handling that.”

Girardi said if players are upset at the Marlins upending their season, they have not expressed that to him, although sources said some players are upset.

But nothing can change what happened. They can only try to play and stay healthy.

“You can’t slip up,” Girardi said. “You can’t make a bad decision because it really cost your organization, the game of baseball and everything. I feel safe around our clubhouse. I really do. We’re tested every other day, we get all our food here. It’s not bad.

“I felt bad, but I got in an elevator the other day and someone started to get in without their mask. I just said, 'No.' In our building, it says you need to wear a mask. I just said, 'Sorry.' I don't want to be rude. But I have a responsibility to our game that I don't contact it and spread it around. That's how everyone has to look at this.”