Notes: Wheeler puts on show in 'pen session
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Zack Wheeler drew a crowd on Wednesday morning as he threw 42 pitches in a bullpen session at Carpenter Complex.
Phillies prospects huddled together to watch the club’s ace work. One Phillies lifer who watched Wheeler pitch thought that the ball was coming out of his hand “deliciously.”
Wheeler felt like it, too.
“Out of the stretch I was a little behind, but as long as it’s coming out good, that’s all that matters to me right now,” he said.
Wheeler entered camp behind schedule after throwing a Major League-leading 213 1/3 innings last season and experiencing right shoulder soreness when he started throwing again in December. He missed a few days last week because of the flu but said he continued to throw off a mound.
Wheeler still thinks he can be ready to pitch the first week of the season.
“I’ve just had a few things to cross off, I guess,” he said.
Wheeler is next scheduled to throw a live batting practice session. Then he could pitch in a Grapefruit League game. “As long as it keeps going like this,” he said.
Herrera will miss Opening Day, Haseley now in CF mix
Odúbel Herrera will not make the Opening Day roster after an MRI exam revealed a mild strain in his right oblique. Phillies manager Joe Girardi said it might take four to six weeks to recover.
Philadelphia’s season opener is 16 days away, on April 8.
“We’re not going to rush him,” Girardi said.
That leaves Matt Vierling and Adam Haseley competing for playing time in center field. Vierling entered camp as the favorite for the job, though the Phils said then that Vierling and Herrera could platoon in center. Now, Vierling and Haseley could platoon. Girardi mentioned Mickey Moniak as a candidate as well, but he said just this week that the Phillies did not view him as a center fielder.
Herrera signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract earlier this month.
“We’ve got to let this heal up before he starts swinging,” Girardi said. “Because I don’t want it to linger.”
Could Castellanos play third base?
Nick Castellanos immediately followed his illuminating press conference on Wednesday with some infield work alongside Phillies infield coach Bobby Dickerson. Castellanos started his career as a third baseman, but he has not played there since 2017.
Could Castellanos actually play third for the Phillies at some point?
“We don’t have plans on playing him at third base,” Girardi said. “Believe me, I keep my eyes on everything. But I wouldn’t make too much of it.”
However, Castellanos’ competence at third would give Girardi another intriguing option there, if needed. Alec Bohm entered camp as the presumed Opening Day third baseman. But before the end of last season, the Phillies told Didi Gregorius to do some work there, in case he is needed. They also like what they have in utility infielder Johan Camargo, who played well as the Braves’ third baseman in 2018 before he got bumped for Josh Donaldson in 2019.
Girardi mentioned how he played outfielder Vernon Wells at third base for an inning with the Yankees in 2013, comparing Wells to Castellanos. Of course, the difference between those two is that Wells never played the infield until his 15th and final season in the big leagues. Castellanos has played 4,401 innings at third, more than he has played in his career in the outfield (4,242 2/3).
Girardi insisted that he sees Castellanos floating between right field, left field and designated hitter, with Bryce Harper the primary right fielder and Kyle Schwarber the primary left fielder.
Schwarber makes his spring debut
Schwarber got three plate appearances as a DH in his Grapefruit League debut. He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He faced two-time All-Star José Berríos twice and closer Jordan Romano once.
Schwarber is expected to play in the field on Friday.
“I thought his at-bats were good,” Girardi said. “For a guy that hasn’t seen any live BP, that’s pretty darn good.”
Castellanos could play in his first spring game on Monday.