Hunter (hamstring) set to begin season on DL

March 27th, 2018

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Veteran reliever Tommy Hunter will start the season on the disabled list after suffering a "mild" Grade 1 hamstring strain, according to Phillies manager Gabe Kapler. Hunter threw a bullpen session in Clearwater on Monday morning to test out the hamstring, which he injured last week, and determined that the injury warranted a trip to the DL.

The Phillies signed Hunter to a two-year, $18 million deal in December, with the expectation he could be relied upon to pitch the eighth inning in front of closer . The 31-year-old Hunter posted a strong season in 2017, throwing to a 2.61 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings while pitching for the Rays. 

Hunter's injury opens the door for both right-handed relievers , who threw a scoreless fifth inning on Monday, and . The two had been in competition for the final bullpen spot.

"Those guys earned the opportunity to be on a Major League roster by having great camps, attacking the strike zone and demonstrating their secondary stuff," Kapler said.

Despite the injury to Hunter, Kapler said that the team was fortunate to make it through camp with only minor injuries and "unavoidable tweaks."

"I'm sort of relishing the fact that we had a really successful camp," Kapler said. "It was all about getting those guys to the finish line of this camp healthy and strong and I feel like we did a really good job."

Kapler proud of fight in spring finale

Although Tuesday's game against the Pirates ended in a 5-5 tie, Kapler praised his team for never giving up. After falling behind 4-0 in the first, Philly rallied back to tie it with four runs in the fifth. homered to left -- his fourth of the spring -- to lead off the inning. Zachary Coppola tied it up with a two-run single. Coppola would score the go-ahead run in the eighth on a single by Simon Muzziotti before the Bucs tied it in the ninth.

"We asked them to show an incredible level of intensity, to run the bases with intent and to be bold across the board," Kapler said. "They executed on that."

Spring leaders

wrapped up the Phillies' Grapefruit League season with a team-best 23 hits -- 10 for extra bases -- and an extraordinary .411/.441/.786 slash line, all tops on the club. finished as the Phils' leader in home runs (six) and RBIs (15). led all players this spring with nine stolen bases.

On the mound, led all Phillies pitchers with 18 strikeouts. , who allowed just one earned run in seven innings of work, threw to a 1.29 ERA, lowest among Philadelphia pitchers with at least 10 appearances.

Up next

The Phillies will have an off-day on Wednesday before traveling to Atlanta for the regular-season opener on Thursday at SunTrust Park. Nola will make his first career Opening Day start opposite Braves starter . First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. ET, live on MLB.TV