Notes: Wheeler's timeline; Clearwater anniversary; Schwarber's role

March 19th, 2022

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies ace  missed three days of camp this week because of the flu.

No big deal, except team officials believed it left him with little wiggle room to pitch the first week of the season. Wheeler entered camp behind schedule because he had not thrown off a mound until Tuesday, following a heavy workload in 2021 and dealing with right shoulder soreness in December. But Wheeler said Saturday morning at BayCare Ballpark that he is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Sunday.

He also said he can still pitch the first week of the season.

Why is that?

“Because I threw,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler threw away from Phillies facilities the past few days. His throwing partner?

“I don’t know, the wall,” he deadpanned.

But there is a very real way for Wheeler to pitch the first week. Instead of staying in Clearwater next month and pitching in a meaningless game to build arm strength, he could pitch those innings in a real game with the Phillies. The team would need another starting pitcher lined up to follow him, but that is feasible, especially if Major League Baseball expands rosters an extra player or two the first few weeks of the season following the lockout-shortened spring.

“That’s obviously up to [the team], because that uses more bullpen guys,” Wheeler said. “But obviously, you can just tag somebody with me for the first couple starts. Maybe another starter and just do it that way.”

“I would not eliminate him, because he didn’t really miss anything,” manager Joe Girardi said.

75 years in Clearwater
The Phillies held a pregame ceremony commemorating their 75th spring in Clearwater, Fla. Phillies alumni Mike Schmidt, Charlie Manuel, Larry Bowa, Greg Luzinski and others participated in the ceremony.

“The City of Clearwater has been an outstanding partner over the past 75 years,” Phillies managing partner John Middleton said. “I cannot imagine calling any other location home to our Spring Training complex. Its beautiful beaches and hospitable businesses make Clearwater the perfect destination for Phillies fans. We look forward to continuing our Spring Training partnership with the city for many more years to come.”

Schwarber is on his way
Kyle Schwarber will be in camp on Sunday. He agreed to a four-year, $79 million contract on Wednesday.

“He brings a thunderous bat that’s an on-base guy, that brings an attitude every day that he plays,” Girardi said.

Girardi said Schwarber might need five or six days of workouts before he sees game action, having missed a week of camp.

So where does Schwarber hit once the season starts? Leadoff maybe?

“That’s something we want to sit down and talk about, and see if that’s what we think our best lineup is,” Girardi said. “I think when you look at Kyle, Kyle’s a guy that’s willing to do anything to win. It’s nice to have those types of players that don’t get so set.”

Schwarber’s lack of speed is not a detriment in the top spot.

“The game has moved to that,” Girardi said. “Probably the most important thing in scoring runs is on-base, right? It’s not always speed. Now, one through nine hits the ball out of the ballpark. It comes down to getting on base and creating opportunities for yourself, and he’s really good at that.”