CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Ranger Suárez’s equipment bag sat in front of his locker early Friday morning at BayCare Ballpark. It wasn’t supposed to be there.
Suárez was supposed to be with Venezuela, preparing to pitch in the World Baseball Classic. But he rejoined the Phillies after experiencing tightness in his left forearm following an exhibition Wednesday against the Astros. Suárez and the Phillies said they do not believe the issue is serious. They said he will rest a few days, then he will try to resume his throwing program.
“Everything is fine,” Suárez said through an interpreter. “They’re not concerned about it. I just wanted to get it checked out.”
Suárez said he hopes he can still make his first turn through the rotation the first week of the season.
“I think so, at least that’s what I’m hoping for,” he said. “I know it’s a very long season, so I don’t want to miss much of it.”
Phillies manager Rob Thomson said he is “pretty confident” Suárez will be ready, too.
Suárez said he did not receive an MRI exam because “it’s really not a big thing.” His manager agreed.
“We’re pretty confident that it’s nothing,” Thomson said. “He’s got a little bit of pain in his forearm. I think they’ll knock it out in a couple days and see where we’re at.”
Suárez’s setback follows Andrew Painter’s right-elbow injury, which will not require surgery. Painter had been competing to be the team’s No. 5 starter. Left-hander Bailey Falter is the favorite for the No. 5 spot now, but left-handers Michael Plassmeyer and Cristopher Sánchez and right-hander Nick Nelson are in the mix. Falter -- who has allowed three runs (two earned) in 3 2/3 innings this spring -- probably has the edge, based on his performance last season, but Plassmeyer (zero runs allowed in 5 1/3 innings) is pitching well this spring.
If Suárez is OK, he will be one of the Phillies’ top four starters, alongside Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Taijuan Walker. If he is not ready, then the Phillies will need two pitchers from the No. 5 starter’s competition to take two spots in the rotation.
“I’m confident in all those guys,” Thomson said. “I really am. It’s like last year when everybody seemed to be going down and people just come up and step up and do the job. That’s kind of what we expect."